The grassroots community organization “Don’t Drill The Hills” (DDH) has been asking the Rochester Hills Mayor and City Council to hold a public hearing regarding the proposed oil and gas exploration. In an effort to satisfy our request, the city instead scheduled a limited invite open house with very short notice given. In response to the apparent attempt by the City to limit the exposure of the open house, DDH issued a press release to the major local media outlets.
Local TV news responded the DDH press release regarding the Oil and Gas Open House and showed up ready for interviews. DDH members were interviewed by both Channel 4 and Channel 7 news. See the news clips here:
Although the City of Rochester Hills’ chosen format for the meeting – an “ask the expert” style open house – was not conducive to proper resident education, about 100 Rochester Hills residents attended to learn what they could. The tables of experts included: 3 representatives of West Bay Exploration who handle the seismic testing, 2 West Bay executives, A Jordan Oil Vice President, The Assistant Supervisor of Wells, Hal Fitch, at MDEQ’s Office of Oil and Gas Management (OOGM) ,2 OOGM oil and gas geologists, 2 other DEQ employees showing maps of oil and gas wells in Michigan, and James Clift, policy lead, Michigan Environmental Council. To sum up: eleven oil and gas professionals and one non-profit. Also in attendance were well over a dozen City officials and administrative staff, including Mayor Barnett.
Many residents mentioned they were new to the issue and were disappointed by the absence of presentations, the heavily one-sided representation, as well as difficulty in hearing responses to questions due to the table set up. One resident on her way out said “That was a joke. I could not get close enough to hear the questions others were asking. And when I asked a question, several times I was told that I was asking the wrong person.”
Still, DDH hopes some information was gleaned from this first informational meeting, and looks forward to a more balanced panel discussion from the City in the future. It is important to evaluate both sides of the argument to make an informed decision. More information on the financial and environmental risks of oil and gas exploration in high density neighborhoods can be found on this website.