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Michigan anti-fracking effort stalled

State chamber of commerce says that spells victory for Michigan's economy.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Michigan anti-fracking effort stalled
Advocacy group in Michigan said it will take legal action after a petition drive to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state failed. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

LANSING, Mich., June 2 (UPI) -- As an environmental group prepares to sue the state of Michigan over its anti-fracking effort, the state chamber of commerce said it beat the "fringe" effort.

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan came up short of the petitions needed to get a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state ballot in November. The group said it would challenge a state measure that limits the duration of petition drives to push the effort forward.

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"We are suing the state, and continuing the campaign for the 2018 ballot," the group said in a statement.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won for the Democrats in the Michigan primary, has vowed to ban the practice more commonly known as fracking nation-wide if he's elected president. Vermont was the first state to ban fracking. New York has also moved in opposition to the drilling practice.

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This was the third time in as many years that an anti-fracking effort in Michigan has stalled. Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the defeat for the anti-fracking group was a victory for the state economy.

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"The winners here are the more than 30,000 Michigan citizens who work in energy exploration-related jobs, and Michigan consumers who require safe and reliable forms of energy," he said in a statement.

A May report commissioned by the Michigan Oil and Gas Association finds the oil and gas industry in the state directly employs about 22,700 and supports another 24,000, making it one of the smaller sectors of the state labor force. The economic output of $13.6 billion for the Michigan oil and gas industry represents about 3 percent of the overall gross domestic product for the state.

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Jobs in the industry, according to the report, are on pace to increase 46 percent over the next 10 years, although future prospects may be dimmed in the weakened oil economy.

Michigan in 2014 produced 7.1 million barrels of oil, small when compared with other oil states like Texas and North Dakota. The state ranks No. 18 in the nation in terms of natural gas production.

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