Ballot initiative to ban fracking in Michigan

Who am I?

We are a citizen-led ballot initiative, the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. We are a ballot question committee, registered with the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections, to put a proposal on the next statewide ballot in November 2014 to ban horizontal fracking and frack wastes. We are hundreds of voters in Michigan who are mobilizing to ban fracking in our state, by collecting enough signatures from our fellow voters to put this important issue to a vote of the people. It is called "direct democracy."

Why am I running?

We are seeking a ballot proposal because we believe that a majority of Michigan voters, when faced with the threat of hydraulic fracturing and its many harms, will agree that protecting our water, our air, our land, our health, our future generations, our wildlife, and tourism and agricultural economies, and many other aspects of sustainable life is of more importance than developing Michigan's natural gas and will join the growing national movement to ban horizontal fracking and frack wastes. The state of Vermont has banned fracking, and other states are seeking to do so as well. We do not want a state that is filled with thousands of deep horizontal frack wells, using millions upon millions of gallons of our fresh groundwater, and with thousands of toxic injection wells to hold all the wastes generated from fracking. Most people erroneously assume that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is supposed to look out for the environment and our health and water, but the opposite is true when it comes to oil and gas. The current law requires the Michigan DEQ to "foster the development of the industry along the most favorable conditions and with a view to the ultimate recovery of the maximum production" of oil and gas.

This is a legislative initiative, which means we seek to amend and add to the state law or statute (we are not amending the state constitution). In the statutory language our committee wrote and is proposing, no person, corporation or other entity shall use horizontal hydraulic fracturing nor dispose of wastes from fracking. In addition the old language that gives special interest protection to the oil and gas industry would be removed.

My Goals

First we must collect enough valid signatures from Michigan registered voters to qualify for the ballot--we need 258,088 signatures. Our deadline is October 1, 2013. Once we pass that hurdle, the Legislature takes up the proposed legislation and must vote it up or down, with no changes, and it is veto-proof. If the Legislature fails to act in 40 days, or votes no, it goes to the ballot for a statewide vote of the people in November 2014. Once voters approve the measure, the language becomes "super-protected" by a 3/4 supermajority in both the state house and senate, and again the governor cannot veto it. A measure many voters will remember that was passed this way was the Bottle Bill.

My DFA Values

Ballot initiatives are "direct democracy"--that is, the voters themselves write the measure and vote in the measure. We believe in the power of the people to overcome the odds against us--the influence of money, power, and the many elected officials who are in our state legislature thanks to the moneyed interests of the gas and oil industry and the heavy propaganda put out by the gas and oil industry on the airwaves and in print. (See Common Cause report on frack industry money to politicians, Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets)

We wrote the ballot language with a lot of guidance and legal counsel, and took points from successful and pending ban legislation in other states. Our ballot proposal petition has received approval from the Michigan Board of State Canvassers "as to form" which is the standard approval given to the format of the petition.

None of the committee members receive a salary or pay. We may pay some signature-gatherers as the deadline draws near. All campaign finances are reported to the Secretary of State and posted on the state's website.

We seek endorsements from respected leaders and organizations, and many small community-based groups as well, who stand with us for a ban on fracking. Some of our early endorsers include: The Green Party of Michigan, Dr. Margaret Flowers, "Gasland" film director Josh Fox, John Fenton of Pavillion, Wyoming who is featured in the movie Gasland, Jessica Ernst, the Canadian scientist suing Encana and the Alberta government for fracking in Alberta, Oakland County Water Commissioner Jim Nash, the Progressive Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party, Hood Research in Detroit, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, State Senator Coleman Young II, former tribal chairman Derek Bailey, progressive radio talk show host Tony Trupiano, and many others.

Campaign director LuAnne Kozma is a long-time activist and political organizer in the state. She attended Camp Wellstone's campaign training and has worked on many other political campaigns. She is a networker, who as a folklorist for the Michigan State University Museum for 25 years worked with artists and youth leaders throughout the state. She directed one year of the 4-H Capitol Experience program, teaching young people how legislation become law. Her passion for park protection, after many legal and political fights to protect public parks from threats such as corporate takeovers and industrialization, led her to the issue of fracking. She has testified to Congress about federal violations to the Land and Water Conservation Act, to the New York City Council on fracking, and participated in a Ban Fracking in New York State conference in 2011 at which she presented on the status of fracking in Michigan. She co-founded the group "Ban Michigan Fracking," a non-profit which continues to put hard-hitting news about fracking issues in the state (

My Campaign is People Powered!

We are a citizen-led, truly grassroots movement. We are not sponsored or financed by any large non-profit organization, as so many ballot initiatives are created and engineered. Instead, we are talking with people across the state, one on one, face to face, as we collect signatures and recruit more volunteers, finding other like-minded individuals as we go. In 2012, we involved 450 volunteers in 51 counties to garner over 30,000 signatures for a previous petition.

This year, we have an impressive outreach across Michigan. We have over 600 volunteers thus far, but we need many more. We kicked off the campaign in training events in 26 communities across the state, including the U.P. We use social media through Facebook and Twitter. We rely on donations by individuals, small fundraisers, and interested groups. We have a website for organizing the campaign and a network of county-based coordinators who provide petition sheets, a campaign button, and training to all volunteers face-to-face. We also coordinate our activities at major events and festivals at which we collect signatures. We issue press releases to a media list, and make sure we make comments on the press that we do get. We also go on as many radio talk shows as we can and participate in community forums on fracking. The word is still tough to get out and we struggle for fair coverage.

This issue brings out many people from a broad spectrum of political affiliations. A ballot initiative is by definition NON partisan. No political party owns an initiative. We seek endorsements from political leaders of all kinds. The Green Party in particular and the Progressive democratic wing of the Democratic party have given us the most attention thus far, but many local Republican leaders have also signed the petition and are involved in the drive. This is truly "direct democracy" at its finest--a ballot initiative with no party affiliation. It is, people-powered. Not party-powered.

Voice support


  • Janis Smith
  • Sharon Klemm
  • Ione Lake
  • Rev Claudia Barber
  • Sandra Weinrauch, MI
  • Margarer Bennett, MI
  • Bonita Peavy
  • Donna Delisi
  • Mark Dilley
  • Faye Ogasawara
...and 148 more.

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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