Corporatism, Michigan — August 27, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Like Shelby Township, Scio Township passes moratorium on oil drilling. Company keeps drilling anyway.


You know we’re in the steely grip of corporatocracy when this happens:

West Bay Exploration Company has no plans to cease drilling at the corner of West Delhi and Miller roads northwest of Ann Arbor.

The company’s oil rig is in Scio Township, where the Board of Trustees passed a moratorium last week against oil exploration activity.

West Bay Exploration vice president Gibson said Monday evening that he received the township’s moratorium that day in the mail, but had not had a chance to read it closely. […]

“We’re into the drilling phase now and there’s a safety factor that becomes involved in the drilling where we need to continue circulating mud in the hole,” Gibson said.

“To keep the integrity of the hole, to keep the hole the round shape that the bit created it, to keep the sides from caving in we need to keep pressure on the sides of the hole.” […]

“If you stop, you abandon the hole and start a new hole,” he said.

That’s not a “safety factor” issue. That’s a “it will cost us too much to start over” issue. And we can’t have an oil and gas company be inconvenienced by the silly whims of the local residents who actually live there, now, can we?

Scio Township’s moratorium on oil drilling comes on the heels of a similar moratorium passed in Shelby Township in Macomb County. Oil drilling was stopped there because, well, they had already finished their test well.

See? No inconvenience!

The fact is that both of these wells are exploratory wells. If they hit pay dirt, both Townships can count on a legal battle with the well-funded oil company who will proceed to expand operations and make a ton of money. Legislation passed by the Republican-led legislature in 2011 hamstrings local municipalities, forcing them to prove that the operation will cause harm. Once upon a time, it was the oil company that was responsible for proving that it won’t cause harm. More on that in my post titled “Chelsea/Lyndon Township residents fight intrusive gravel mine with both hands tied behind their backs“.

Those days are long gone. These days corporations hold all of the power and local municipalities, which are increasingly facing budget crunches thanks to Republican policies, find themselves without the resources to fight back on behalf of the citizens they represent and work for.

The concepts of “democracy” and “will of the people” are just quaint, antiquated ideas these days. If you are a corporation, the laws favor you and your “speech” is thunderously loud, drowning out actual human beings.

[CC image credit: Dwight Burdette | Wikimedia Commons]