Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

Unity and Support Key to MI Grassroots Fracking Movement

Over the weekend of June 1-2 I had the pleasure of attending Part 2 of the Common Ground Fracking retreat. Held at Circle Pines Retreat Center and representing over 40 different grassroots groups opposed to fracking, this was an amazing opportunity to meet the diverse group of people in this fight and think about how the MSSC can best support these efforts.

You should read all about it in this wonderful article written by Maryann Lessert! Much thanks to Maryann for her ability to sum up our weekend quite accurately and portray the new sense of unity with which this movement will progress.

Many of you know that the MSSC has an anti-fracking working group, and over the past semester we’ve been struggling to find where students can fit in to the anti-fracking movement. Part of this had to do with the divided nature of the fracking debate in MI- do we call for a ban? Is a moratorium more politically feasible? Or maybe we should enact local ordinances because of our political gridlock? While I was once frustrated by what seemed to be a lack of unity in the movement, I’ve now come to realize that, by supporting groups pursuing all of these strategies, we can be part of a movement that is truly fighting on all fronts.

Although we may not always agree on the best strategy to pursue in each moment, we certainly can agree that, united, we stand a much better chance. By coming together for this weekend of dialogue and work, we were able to forge a path forward that allows us to provide support for all of the organizations fighting fracking without having to choose one strategy over another. In this way we can all move forward with the heavy load of work that needs to be done- educating Michiganders about the dangers of fracking and building enough grassroots power to fight the massive oil and gas industry doing everything in their power to suck our state dry of natural gas.

The MSSC still has some more work to do to figure out where we can fit best in to this movement, but I”m confident that we’ll figure it out. We’ve got wonderful students working in the field already, and plenty of organizations and efforts to plug in with. How do you think the MSSC should support student action around fracking this fall? If you want to talk more, please leave a comment and/or join the anti-fracking working group!

I’ll leave you with another highlight from my weekend, brought to me by the beautiful Circle Pines Retreat Center:

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Yep, that is me milking a goat. A goat named Kesha.  If you want to have this awesome goat-milking experience, and maybe throw in a  Michigan music filled weekend, check out the upcoming music festival at Circle Pines- the Buttermilk Jamboree! 

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



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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Anti-Fracking Working Group: Notes from Call

Hi MSSCers! Here are the notes from the Anti-Fracking Working Group call on April 4th.

This blog will show MI students how others are working on fighting fracking, will be a place for resources, and where students can say what they need (ex. bodies at a protest). The next call we are hoping more people will have input as to where this group goes in terms of taking action! Attached is the link for the Doodle for our next call which will be next week! Please fill it out ASAPhttp://doodle.com/mmvmkcvxgcuhewtt

Ordinances: Alysha discussed the group that is currently working on creating a sample resolution and a how-to-guide for people to present in their cities. While this ordinance is not a straight “ban” on fracking, it works around the system to make it nearly impossible to frack in an area (ex. banning elements of fracking such as large truckloads, water withdrawal, etc). This also provides a neutral ground so people can get involved in the fight on fracking while  avoiding the “pro/con” ban debate. The counties that will be working on ordinances are: Grand Rapids/Kent County, Allegan County, Oakland County, and Washtenaw County. These counties will then be focusing on one specific city.

If you are interested in working on an ordinance in your county, contact Alysha McClain at alyshaomcclain@gmail.com

May 9: Unfortunately, May 9 is the next mineral rights lease auction and it is approaching quickly. There is a group of Michigan Fracktivists that will be planning the protest for this date. If you missed the call but would like to stay informed about the protest, contact Mariah at mariahamberurueta@gmail.com

Call-in number: (605) 475-4000
Access code: 362247#

So sign the Doodle and get on the next call! Cheers.

(Notes written by Mariah Urueta from CMU, edited by Claire Malley from UM.)

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Plans for Action Around Fracking Developing in MI

From Mariah Urueta, CMU Student and MSSC Steering Commitee Member
Interested in joining a MSSC working group? Check out the anti-fracking one!
We’ll be having our first call very soon!
This past weekend, about 45 people representing different environmental organizations from across the state gathered in Delton, MI. The goal was to get the next steps moving to stop fracking in Michigan. This event was a unique and really great builder for Michigan fracktivists. There were many different tactics presented throughout the weekend. Every strategy from legalities, ordinances, deepwater testing/watchdog, organizing, and direct action were all discussed! While skeptical at first if any real steps would be taken (because there was so much information presented), I was pleasantly surprised when I left the weekend with many options of steps I could take against this destruction of land, air, and rights. There has been ideas floating around about a statewide coalition being formed and upcoming fracktivist convergences which I plan to keep everyone posted about! Personally, I will be working on the Mineral Right Lease Auction protest for May! I feel that this event was a great step for Michigan in trying to fight fracking. I am excited to bridge the MSSC and this event to gain more momentum for action! That is what I am hoping this working group can bring to the MSSC! Options for students to pursue other avenues of action, but ultimately a collective effort!
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Michigan: Sold to the Highest Bidder

The following is an account from Chloe Gleichman, a CMU student and prominent climate activist, of what happened at the recent MDNR land auction protest. Remember hearing from Jordan Lindsay about the previous MDNR protest? Well the auction happened, and 195,000 acres of Michigan land were sold for oil and gas development. 

My dad calls it the Magic Trail. It is a short, winding path through a thin forest where the birds, so trusting of humans, will land on seeded hands to grab a snack. Embedded in the safety of a state park, the Magic Trail is as much mine as it is the birds, the rocks, the trees, the deer.

But yesterday, a part of this trail became the property of a new owner, the oil and gas industry. At the hands of our own Department of Natural Resources, the mineral rights of 195,000 acres of our public land was sold to the highest oil and gas industry bidder in the fall edition of a biannual land auction, some for as little as $2/acre.

Sold is one way to describe what happened to the land and water in that grim, austere auction room, but as a citizen of Michigan, a more appropriate word would be stolen. Our land was stolen from us by Big Oil and Gas with the consent of a department whose mission is to conserve and protect.


Poisoning for pennies. No!” Citizens yelled minutes before the auction, until told by a conservation officer, the DNR’s own private police force, that we would be subject to arrest for any disruption we made. The public viewing area, rows of seats behind the bidders, quieted down, but only for a moment.

As the auctioneer put parcel after parcel of land up for bid, emotions were flaring. Devastation. Anger. Betrayal. Powerlessness. While parcel after parcel was sold, citizen after citizen was ejected from the auction room for disrupting a “lawful” meeting, shouting impassioned cries at the bidders and auctioneers.

“Stop it! Think about the people you are poisoning! Think about the children! Stop!” yelled one young woman, in tears, as she was dragged out by four conservation officers. Seven people were arrested for speaking out, attempting to lock in to the auctioneers table, or disrupting the auction. Six were held overnight in jail and charged with felonies for resisting arrest. The fascist state tendencies and class warfare that is inherent in domination by industry became ever more apparent as the bidders sneered at us and laughed, as if the entire auction was some sort of silly game in which they were the winners.

But while we may have been the losers yesterday, a love for our state, a love for our land and water, and a love for each other unites. Intimidation and fear will not crush our spirits or conviction. We are the people and although the systems of power do not acknowledge us, we are not going away. We will not stop until they do.

And if they frack, we’ll be back.

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Opposition to Fracking on Public Lands Addressed by the DNR!!

It appears that the 1200+ comments submitted to the DNR and Director Keith Creagh opposing the auction of public lands for potential fracking activities have been heard! Many students attended the preliminary NRC meeting to voice their opinion that our public lands should not be sold to gas and oil companies for the purposes of hydraulic fracturing, which would contaminate our land and drinking water, and waste millions of gallons of water in the process.

Directly after this meeting Keith Creagh announced that the planned auction of this land will take place, but that he will look in to any “controls” that could be placed on fracking. Despite some folks denying the hazard of fracking to our state’s natural resources, it seems that the DNR has heard our voices against this process, and could be taking some action on the problem. Check out the article here!

Although this problem is far from over, it feels great to see the DNR taking our voices in to account, and looking further in to the fracking process! a BIG shout out to our friends organizing the Citizens Against Drilling on Public Lands. This student generated group out of Mt. Pleasant has provided an excellent, and very much needed, forum for students to unite against fracking in our state. They helped to generate the thousands of public comments and petition signatures needed to make our voices heard. Thanks for the great work and dedication!

Please join us on October 24th as we continue to protest the auction of our public lands and their mineral rights to oil and gas companies. This will be a crucial action to make sure that the DNR knows that we are taking this more seriously than ever, and want to hold them accountable to their mission and Michigan citizens. Check out the Facebook event here. 

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Public Comment Against Land Auction for Fracking

This past week, students from across the state came to Lansing to make a public comment at the Natural Resources Commission of Michigan meeting. These students were part of a larger group called Citizens Against Drilling on Public Lands in Michigan, a group created by students to unite the anti-fracking movement in an effort to stop our public lands from being fracked. This group is currently opposing the DNR’s upcoming public land auction of mineral rights in Michigan, which means that oil and gas companies can buy our land cheaply and continue fracking in Michigan. 


Check out this blog from Jordan Lindsay, an MSU student and leader working with MSU Greenpeace. Jordan attended the hearing and made a comment, and gives a great overview of what happened during that time, and what will happen next. 

Contact cadplmich@gmail.com to find out how you can help. 

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