Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan

Fracking in Benzie county, photo by Heather Rousseau

Executive Summary (PDF)

Final IA Report (PDF)

Final Report, design by Susan Thompson

JUST RELEASED: The Final Integrated Assessment Report and Executive Summary are now available.

There is significant momentum behind natural gas extraction efforts in the United States, with many states embracing it as an opportunity to create jobs and foster economic strength. Natural gas extraction has also been championed as a way to move toward energy independence and a cleaner energy supply. First demonstrated in the 1940’s, hydraulic fracturing is now the predominant method used to extract natural gas in the U.S.

As domestic natural gas production has accelerated in recent years, however, the hydraulic fracturing process has come under increased public scrutiny. Concerns include perceived lack of transparency, chemical contamination, new techniques, water availability, waste water disposal, and impacts on ecosystems, human health, and surrounding communities.

A unique partnership involving several University of Michigan units, industry representatives, environmental organizations, and state regulators formed in 2012 in order to examine the multiple aspects of this gas extraction technique with an emphasis on impacts and issues related to the State of Michigan.

The Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Integrated Assessment first compiled technical reports on seven key topics related to hydraulic fracturing in Michigan. Drawing upon the information provided by the technical reports, additional peer-reviewed materials, stakeholder input, and expert peer review, the final report offers an analysis of Michigan-specific policy options with a focus on three key areas related to high volume hydraulic fracturing:

  • Public participation
  • Water resources
  • Chemical use

For more information about the Integrated Assessment and to download the project deliverables, click on the button below.

Learn more

The project was a partnership of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute, Energy Institute, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, and Risk Science Center.

In a March 2015 special message to Michigan's Legislature and citizens about the state's overall energy policy, Governor Snyder cited the IA's usefulness for evaluating policy options for hydraulic fracturing:

"The [revised administrative] rules that took effect this week regarding high volume hydraulic fracturing were developed while key decision-makers from the state were participating in the first phase of an integrated assessment by the University of Michigan's Graham Institute. That helped us see an opportunity to strengthen our protection of water and give the public more information…The Graham Institute is now well into the second phase of its integrated assessment and the State will be among the many entities giving public comment to the researchers. The State looks forward to reading the final assessment and considering whether further rule changes or other improvements should be proposed."

—A Special Message from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder: Ensuring Affordable, Reliable, and Environmentally Protective Energy for Michigan's Future (PDF), March 13, 2015

Related Links