Up in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula you can find some of the most awesome forests and rivers. The Au Sable river is one of them and it, along with the Manistee River are two of the nicest places in our fair state to canoe, trout fish and just chill.
So of course an oil company, with assistance from a very cooperative government headed by two oilmen, felt it was the ideal place to drill an oil well.
Well, this week, a judge in Traverse City stopped them.
A federal judge has overturned a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow oil and gas drilling near a forest and a river in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson of Detroit ruled Thursday the agency had acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in 2005 by giving Savoy Energy LP of Traverse City a permit to drill an exploratory well near the Au Sable River’s south branch.
The proposed wellhead would be located in the Huron-Manistee National Forest about three-tenths of a mile from the Mason Tract, a 4,679-acre wilderness area prized by anglers and other outdoor recreationists.
Forest supervisor Leanne Marten said when approving Savoy’s application that the project wouldn’t significantly harm the environment and the company would be required to keep noise to a minimum.
But the judge ruled the Forest Service didn’t consider how degrading the area could harm tourism, and said the agency did a “woefully inadequate” job of evaluating how the drilling might affect the Kirtland’s warbler, an endangered songbird that nests in the area.
The amazing thing about this to me is that the land was originally donated to the state by a man who stipulated that it be maintained as a wilderness. How drilling for oil fits into that plan, I cannot begin to fathom. Fortunately, the man’s grandson was part of the lawsuit that stopped the plan.
Joining the suit was Tim Mason, whose grandfather, auto executive George Mason, donated the original 1,200 acres to the state upon his death in 1954 and asked that it be maintained as wilderness.
“The ruling supports what my grandfather’s vision was. It’s a victory,” said Mason, a Woodstock, Ill., businessman.
It’s a wonderful thing to behold when the Bush administration and their pals in the oil industry are stopped. Wonderful and, sadly, somewhat unusual.
But this time, they were stopped and my wonderful state is the better for it.
I’m just sayin’…