Gas Wells

July 1989 - Due in part to federal tax subsidies, natural gas exploration in the Antrim Shale layer has steadily increased. Over 1,500 wells were drilled in Montmorency, Crawford and Otsego counties since 1984. One thousand additional permits issued by DNR in 1989.

August 1992 - Widespread, unchecked Antrim explorations continues. Anglers support the formation of the Michigan Environmental Trust, Limited (METL), chartered to combat further environmental destruction of stream, wetland and upland habitat by gas producers.

September 1992 - Angler board member Dick Daane, representing METL, files suit in Ingham County Circuit Court against the Michigan Natural Resources Commission and DNR Director Roland Harmes, stating that the DNR was neglecting its oversight duties in issuing drilling permits and was in violation of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act., among other claims. Judge Carolyn Stell granted most of the temporary injunctions filed by Daane, including ordering the DNR to produce an Antrim-wide EIS by June 30, 1993.

June 30, 1993 - DNR delivers Antrim EIS, which METL critiqued as largely boiler-plate and entirely deficient in content without addressing the real impacts to the environment from large scale drilling. METL asked for a summary judgement from the court given the ill-prepared EIS. Judge Stell ruled too many factual issues remained unresolved and scheduled the matter for trial for June 6, 1994. However, METL lauded one part of the EIS developed by DNR fisheries biologists Gaylord Alexander and Andy Nuhfer that predicted continued sedimentation from drilling and production activities would, conservatively, precipitate an annual trout loss of 70,000 fish per year. (By this time, over 3,000 wells had been drilled or were planned.)

June 1, 1994 - METL settles out of court: in a victory for both METL and the Anglers, Judge Stell signs a permanent injunction applying to 15 counties requiring pipeline crossings to be bored beneath streams instead of trenched. Stell orders a hearing with the Supervisor of Wells to hear arguments to expand the well spacing from the present 40 acres per well to 80 to 160 acres. The hearings are scheduled for November. AMAC loses Hanson lawsuit to the DMA.

June 1995 - Supervisor of Wells orders Antrim well spacing changed from 40 to 80 acres per well permanently effective for 22 counties, a victory for METL and the Anglers.

 January 1996 - METL receives key, favorable decisions in Antrim suit regarding well spacing and gas transmission line stream crossings.