Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

Biannual Atrocity: Mineral Right Lease Auction. Brought to you by the MI Department of Natural Resources.

on May 11, 2013



Tis’ the season for the biannual atrocity; 38,000 acres of our treaty/public/state land was auctioned off from our MDNR to oil and gas monetary puppeteers. Last Thursday, May 9, approximately 40 people from every corner of Michigan gathered together in opposition of the selling of this land for pennies.


To no one’s surprise, MDNR mineral rights lease auctions are always depressing, and leave us feeling disempowered. Since this was the third time that our voices have been silenced, we decided to switch it up this year.


In the morning, we planned a non-arrest-able action. Then, we had a press conference of fours speakers, followed by different trainings that people could attend and learn new ways to fight fracking in MI this Summer! Nobody was arrested. There was a superfluous police presence, including a police dog named Diesel (go figure).

9am– A group of demonstrators coordinated outside of the Lansing center and exchanged phone numbers. Together, they walked inside of the auction room and took a seat, with duct tape placed over all of their mouths. As we were being read our “rights” and the rules of the auction, cell phones started ringing loud and obnoxious ring tones. A few were escorted out right away, but other ring tones were hard to pin point. Then, people spontaneously and simultaneously started coughing and hacking to cause even more disorder! You could say that it disrupted the first bit of the auction.  But aside from this, there was no other action. This can be looked at as good or bad. In a way it was humorous, because the police were very paranoid and expecting more!

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11am– The press conference was held and we had four speakers from across the state:

  • Jim Nash, Oakland County Water Resource Commissioner

Jim talked about the importance of our water and Great Lakes here in MI!

  • Steve Losher, MLAWD

Steve discussed how MLAWD is suing the MDNR for violating the public trust!

  • Phil Bellfy, Article32.org

Phil discussed how First Nations communities are being impacted, and made the clarification of “Treaty” land, opposed to “State” or “Public”.

  • Mariah Urueta, Citizens Against Drilling on Public Land

I spoke about the love driving this movement and how we are growing more organized by the minute!

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Check out some of the coverage we received:






For footage of some protestors getting kicked out of the auction room, click here.


1pm– Trainings where we learned new strategies, tactics, and ways to fight fracking in MI this Summer!

  • Direct Action led by Deep Water, Earth First!
  • Local Ordinances & Working with Local Elected Officials led by Brian and Stephanie of Kent County Water Conservation
  • Messaging, Led by members of the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

As much as this movement is connecting here in MI, the industry is moving faster. It is time for us to make our way from defense to offense. Please keep a lookout for opportunities this Summer you can directly fight fracking. As of now, there is the ballot initiative being led by the Committee to Ban Fracking, a lawsuit being filed by MLAWD, ban resolutions being presented with the help of Food and Water Watch, and efforts to work on local ordinances and a creation of a local ordinance guide by Kent County Water Conservation and Food and Water Watch!

Even more exciting, there will be a group forming a Statewide Strategic Action Plan (SSAP) for MI at the end of this month. I will keep you all posted! In the meantime, get connected with one or more of these groups, and keep being awesome students fighting the good fight!

If you’re interested in planning the next auction action and protest, contact me at mariahamberurueta@gmail.com

Mariah Urueta

MSSC Steering Committee


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