Story by Mariah Cowsert, Opinion Intern
Photo courtesy of Michigan Distilled
We’ve gained coverage of our use of natural resources, helping consumers stay up to date with information regarding our state’s natural gas storage. Statistics from the Department of Natural Resources show we are the leaders in underground storage, totaling nearly 1.1 trillion cubic feet. With our state motto being “Pure Michigan” and our efforts in lowering our carbon footprint, we still have a long road until we make the switch to renewable energy resources and safer storage facilities.
Growing up in a county with high rankings of natural gases, I could see the natural gas burn-off from my best friend’s porch as it was just blocks away. According to data collected by the Michigan Environmental Council, or MEC, most of the underground gas storage is located in western-central counties, such as Montcalm, Mecosta, Clare, and my home county of Osceola.
The harsh effects of fossil fuels don’t stop at pollution. The pipes we are using for underground storage haven’t been updated since the 1940s, according to Michigan Public Service Commission’s Gas Operations. The use of ancient pipes is what caused the gas leak in California last October and increases our chances of having a similar leakage with permanent damage. Although natural gas is less harmful than petroleum and coal, we have to be mindful that we have 58 active storage sites, which is more than any other state.
The lethal gas leak occurred at the Aliso Canyon gas storage site and is home to the most outdated usage of plugs to prevent these sort of leaks. California Governor, Jerry Brown, announced a state of emergency over the disaster and is putting more emergency rules to use so this can be avoided in the future and storage sites can be properly regulated. Even with new regulations in place, they have been unable to stop the leak in Aliso Canyon as it’s pumped over 87,750 metric tons of methane, and the Environmental Defense Fund is keeping a running count to keep citizens informed.
While Michigan has yet to have a gas leak of this size and impact, we have to take more precautions by updating our facilities and storage units to protect the further growth of climate change and emission of excess fossil fuels. Unlike California’s odorless leakage, as a state, we take the precaution of using odorants in our natural gas storage units, so if there was a leak we could locate it and stop it much sooner than that of the ongoing leak on the West Coast. Stay informed about our usage of natural resources by following updates on Michigan Distilled, Analysis, insight & vagaries from Michigan Environmental Council staff.
About the Writer…
Mariah Cowsert is a junior studying Communication with a Theatre Emphasis and English. She has been writing for The Saint since last fall and is excited to continue doing what she loves through her internship with The Saint as Opinion Intern, soon to be Opinion Editor. In her free time she enjoys running, acting and technical theatre involvement, painting, talking in third person for bios, and reading.