Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Integrated Assessment Final Report

September 2015

This report is part of the Hydraulic Fracturing in Michigan Integrated Assessment (IA) which began in 2012. The guiding question of the IA is, “What are the best environmental, economic, social, and technological approaches for managing hydraulic fracturing in the State of Michigan?”

The purpose of the IA is to present information that:

  • expands and clarifies the scope of policy options, and 
  • allows a wide range of decision makers to make choices based on their preferences and values.

As a result, the IA does not advocate for recommended courses of action. Rather, it presents information about the likely strengths, weaknesses, and outcomes of various options to support informed decision making.

The project’s first phase involved the preparation of technical reports on key topics related to hydraulic fracturing in Michigan which were released by the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute in September 2013. This document is the final report for the IA.

The IA report has been informed by the technical reports, input from an Advisory Committee with representatives from corporate, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, a peer review panel, and numerous public comments received throughout this process. However, the report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Advisory Committee or any other group which has provided input. As with preparation of the technical reports, all decisions regarding content of project analyses and reports have been determined by the IA Report and Integration Teams.

While the IA has attempted to provide a comprehensive review of the current status and trends of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), specifically, in Michigan (the technical reports) and an analysis of policy options (this report) there are certain limitations which must be recognized:

  • The assessment does not and was not intended to provide a quantitative assessment (human health or environmental) of the potential risks associated with HVHF. Completing such assessments is currently a key point of national discussion related to HVHF despite the challenges of uncertainty and limited available data–particularly baseline data.
  • The assessment does not provide an economic analysis or a cost-benefit analysis of the presented policy options. While economic strengths and/or weaknesses were identified for many of the options, these should not be viewed as full economic analyses. Additional study would be needed to fully assess the economic impact of various policy actions, including no change of current policy.

Keywords: Fracking, hydraulic fracturing, oil or natural gas extraction, water quality, Graham Sustainability Institute, Michigan