Appeals court says no drilling in Pigeon River forest

Oil PumpsThe Michigan Court of Appeals says state regulators were correct to deny a drilling permit to developers who want to put oil wells on private land surrounded by a state forest.

The developers said the state should either grant the permit, or compensate them for their lost investment. They want to put 11 wells on private property surrounded by the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern lower Michigan.

The state Department of Environmental Quality said the wells were either in designated no-drill zones, or were too close to water.

Brad Wurfel is with the DEQ.

“The takeaway from this decision is that you can’t drill an oil well just any old place in the state of Michigan. There are some areas that are off limits,” said Wurfel.

And the decision says since that was clear up front, the developers don’t get a payback from the state.

The developers can file a new permit request with plans to use different technology, like directional drilling. They can also take their case to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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