The Scio Township Board of Trustees unanimously passed a six month moratorium on all oil and gas operations. A lead critic of the drilling says this is already making a difference.
Laura Robinson, the President of Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards hopes this will inspire other communities that oppose oil exploration. Members of her organization will serve on the Scio Township citizen committee working on oil issues while the moratorium is in place. Robinson believes Scio Township's actions will serve as a rallying cry. "We really have reached a tipping point here where people are saying we have had enough of oil and gas coming into our neighborhoods and in sensitive natural areas, near wetlands, streams all this, coming closing to people's front doors. It's just too much," she says.
West Bay Exploration's Vice President Patrick Gibson commented earlier that the moratorium would only be symbolic since they have the appropriate permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
A 2011 amendment to Michigan's zoning enabling act took regulation of natural resource extraction away from local jurisdictions. This may lead to an eventual court challenge of the moratorium.
Drilling began earlier this week for an exploratory well at Miller and West Delhi roads.
Representatives from West Bay Exploration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.