Riley Orchards Huge Subsidies is Coincident with Fracking Participation


Why, do you suppose, that Riley Orchards, (of Silver Lake Fracking Well fame) is suddenly receiving huge taxpayer subsidies:


Swanson Pickles, (owner of the first fracking well in Muskegon County) has been an old pig at the trough, having received over a million tax payer dollars since 1995.

For details, see:

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Filed Under: Fracking

Correspondence with Steve Riley

 Steve Riley,

Thanks for your email.

However, it’s not easy to respond because every statement you made is either patently false or insanely illogical. Let’s start from the top.

I don’t know what the Trooper told you… [snip]

The video that you mentioned clearly shows Trooper Thomas saying that you, “… would be ok with meeting in order to answer any kind of questions”. How can you not know?


… but I am not interested in meeting with you.

Should I conclude that Trooper Thomas lied to me about you?


…Here is why: You have proven to be untrustworthy by trespassing… [snip]

Now let’s see: 1) you sold your community’s water rights, 2) you subjected your neighbors to fear and to chemical induced discomfort, 3) you risked poisoning these innocent families with Hydrogen Sulfide, 4) you actively hide the fact that the well operators did not follow regulations when they omitted the backflow containment walls, 4) you continue to produce and sell food grown on your land after blowback water with unspecified contaminants flooded the area, 5) you filed formal charges against a journalist because he visited that property, (property that you sold your rights to) in order that he report the matter objectively with a video record. Given all this, which of us is actually untrustworthy?


…and showing a blatent disregard for my privacy.

This is not a private affair. Water is a public resource. Air is publically owned. None of us is interested in you. The extent that your personal greed stands above concern for your neighbor’s is obvious, but that is incidental. (So is your weakness with spelling and grammar.) You should know that I will continue to post your emails, and respond to them publically. As I said, this is not a private affair between you and me. This is a public matter.


You are an activist and have a closed mind… [snip]

You know less about me than you do about the business you sold us out to. But that is irrelevant. 


The oil company… conduct themselves with professionalism, and follow all necessary guidelines. 

In fact, Ocean County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Osborne detailed his difficulty with repeatedly allocating limited resources as a result of the complaints associated with the Riley Orchards fracking well. There was no information communicated in advance of the drilling and fracking operations, and there were no contact people at the Riley Well site during the calamities. In spite of the Federal “Right To Know Act”, County emergency response officials still do not know which chemicals were released into the air, the water, and onto your fields. Thus, they have not been able to ascertain the associated hazard level.


I… have not had any ill effects due to the fracking or any of the other processes.

Not yet, anyway. It sounds like you’ve been lucky so far.

Thanks again,



Mr. Mills, 

I don’t know what the Trooper told you, but I am not interested in meeting with you. Here is why: You have proven to be untrustworthy by trespassing and showing a blatent disregard for my privacy. I feel that anything I say to you will not be accurately portrayed in your web postings, and I will be made out to be something you make of me. You are an activist and have a closed mind on the matter despite what you say. The oil company leasing our land has been a pleasure to work with and conduct themselves with professionalism, and follow all necessary guidelines. I am very much in favor of what is going on, and have not had any ill effects due to the fracking or any of the other processes. This is all I have to say to you on the matter. Please do not contact me anymore and do not come on my property.


Sent from Windows Mail
Sent: ‎June‎ ‎25‎, ‎2013 ‎6‎:‎04‎ ‎PM
To: Steve Riley,
Subject: RE: Weblog e-mail - Riley Well

 Mr. Riley,

The State trooper said you'd be ok with meeting in order to answer any kind of questions.

If that's the case, I would like to follow up.


Would this weekend be ok?


Any place would be fine with me.






-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Weblog e-mail - Riley Well
From: <>
Date: Wed, June 19, 2013 4:32 am
To: "Steve Riley" <>,

 Steve Riley,

I'm just doing my job.

`sorry that you don't like it.

I plan to visit your site again for a better picture. I need to get the "Christmas Tree" with the roadway in the background. As they say, pictures speak a thousand words.

I will let you know when I can drive up there again.

By the way, you can visit me any time for stomping around. I have nothing to hide.




-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Weblog e-mail - Riley Well
From: "Steve Riley" <>
Date: Tue, June 18, 2013 2:35 pm

 Your recent bit you posted was sent to me by a friend. First off, you were trespassing when you drove on my land. If you come back again I will have you arrested. Second, I assume you drove a vehicle that consumes petrolium based fuel and oil. How do you think we get those things? They come out of the ground from a well much like you saw when you were trespassing. My house is the closest to the well, and I have had no complaints. One would think if you came up here to interview people you would want to talk to the people closest to the well. I never talked to you. You went to a meeting heavily biased against any kind of drilling for oil or gas, and the opinions presented there were probably based on a general ignorance rather that on any actual facts. You mentioned three accidents that occurred. Accidents happen in all areas of work. Go to a car plant, an office or a school, accidents happen. People like you need more to do, because you obviously have way too much time on your hands. Please say in Muskegon and keep your ignorance down there. I like it here next to that well you trespassed to see, so leave us alone. Also, next time you post something, leave your address and phone number, maybe I'll drive to your house and walk around your yard and take a few pics and post them online. Steve Riley

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Filed Under: Blog · Fracking

New Video of Fracking Well at Riley Orchards


An anonymous source has provided OM-Live with a new video of the fracking well in Oceana County, MI, (near Silver Lake).

A red warning sign saying, "Danger Poison Gas" is seen hanging from the well head. 

The warning is thought to be an attempt to mitigate damages in any future court action.

The video can be seen on the OM News YouTube channel:

 You can see screen shots from the video on this page:

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Filed Under: Fracking

R.W. Nye: Address to the Ravenna Township Board, June 13, 2013



In the contacts we have had with officials in this area, we have been hearing repeatedly that the drilling of oil

and gas wells is a matter out of your hands.  The drilling of a couple of wells may seem like a small matter to you, but if those exploratory wells yield significant amounts of hydrocarbons you may find yourselves

surrounded by dozens or even hundreds of wells, each making massive demands on your local water 

resources and each posing a significant pollution threat to your drinking water sources and other




Our answer is that this township board may not legally be able to prevent the drilling of oil and gas wells

and the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques--also known as “fracking,” but you have the right and duty 

to protect the interests of your citizens. And to that end there are many things that you can do.



Have you advised your citizens to have baseline testing of their soil and water done before hydraulic 

fracturing begins? Have you encouraged them to check with their insurance companies as to whether they 

have any coverage against damage caused by fracking?



Have you planned what to do if a drop in groundwater levels endangers the water supply of the

Village of Ravenna?



Have you communicated with the county’s Office of Emergency Preparedness to work out a plan of

action in the event of some more serious emergency occurring?



Have you done anything to equip your fire department with HAZMAT capability?



Have you considered how to deal with the possibility of a wellhead accident that would emit dangerous

amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas?



Do you have any early warning system that would alert citizens to shelter indoors and require schools 

to get their children off the playgrounds when toxic substances are released?



Have you considered regulations to restrict the hours during which noisy drilling rigs can operate?



Given that drilling rigs generate large amounts of truck traffic, have you considered what measures will

be necessary to prevent heavy vehicles from tearing up your roads?



Have you considered whether a drilling moratorium might be needed so that you will have time to deal

with these issues?



This coming July 1st will mark the 150th anniversary of the day when General George G. Meade decided

to make a stand against a superior Confederate force by digging in on a low ridge just outside the small town

of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. General Meade did not ask permission of the Gettysburg town government

or of the town’s leading citizens to confront Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  What happened

next is history.



Just as the Civil War had basically nothing to do with the affairs of the town of Gettysburg, so too the issue 

of fracking in Ravenna is not a local one: it goes far beyond this township, the state of Michigan, and even the United States of America. It is a global issue--from Ireland to New Zealand, oil companies are seeking to use this extraction practice to keep alive a little longer an obsolescent technology that is putting huge volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and making dangerous changes to the climate of the entire world. 



You can consider this as a sort of ultimatum, then. We and others have tried to educate you on these subjects,

so you can’t plead ignorance, and if you won’t stand up to the oil and gas companies, you can be sure that

those companies will walk all over you and your people. If your citizens suffer as a result, they should hold

you fully accountable for what you have done and what you have failed to do. Our consciences are clear--we

have warned you.



At this point we are still open to dialogue and to arranging a genuinely informative meeting with citizens,

without a repeat of the MDEQ’s 3x5 cards and dog and pony show; however, given that drilling could begin

any day, I think that the time for talking has just about run out and the time for action has begun. As the oil

companies converge on this township, we will be rallying against them together with others. People in places far and wide are becoming aware of your township’s role as Ground Zero for fracking in Muskegon

County.  We will be monitoring the oil companies’ moves and considering what means of nonviolent political action we can effectively employ against them. Expect an interesting summer--we’ll be around, and we are

ready to make some history.

















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Filed Under: Fracking · Ravenna

Crisis in Ravenna: The Tragedy of the Commons Comes to "Swansonville"

The good of all versus the enrichment of a few:  this is the essence of the troubling question facing the village and township of Ravenna, MI today. 

In his 1968 article, "The Tragedy of the Commons" in the journal Science , Garrett Hardin famously discussed the issue. Using the example of a plot of shared public grazing land, he stated the dilemma: that predictably each farmer will put as many head of cattle out to graze as he can, the objective being to maximize personal wealth without regard to the common good.  After all, it will cost him no more to graze 50 than to graze 25.  The inevitable result will be the overexploitation of the shared meadow, to the detriment of all the farmers.(1)

The water underneath the ground in Ravenna and throughout the state of Michigan is also a commons, like that shared grassy meadow.  As long as the people in rural areas used groundwater for drinking and the irrigation of their fields, there was no problem.  Each landowner took what was needed, and there was plenty left.  Even a business like Ravenna's Swanson Pickle Company, using large amounts for its brine vats, did not, as far as we have learned, unduly stress the supply.

All that has changed: in some parts of the state large corporations have sought to draw huge quantities of water from the ground in order to bottle it and ship it to all parts of the world.  They have encountered local opposition and some legal obstacles, given the threat they are seen to pose to the water supplies of the Great Lakes basin and the provisions of the interstate Great Lakes Compact.(2)

But a newer group of players has emerged in the form of oil and gas well drilling companies, which are exempt many of the limitations of other groundwater users.  Having long lobbied for legislation designed to make them a privileged class, the oil companies have laid plans to use massive amounts of groundwater for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a process designed to extract oil and gas trapped in layers of shale rock.  Unlike earlier processes designed to stimulate production from conventional wells, this new version of fracking may use up to tens of millions of gallons of water per well.  This being said, the two exploratory wells that have been permitted on Donald Swanson's property in the township are probably in themselves unlikely to dry up the village, which draws its drinking water from underground souces.  If one of these wells should yield a significant amount of oil or gas, however, all bets are off. In that case there will probably be many, many more wells. 

The agency that is supposed to protect the people's groundwater is the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This is not at all reassuring, given the attitudes that its representatives have displayed when discussing fracking with members of the public.  At a May 1, 2013 meeting at Muskegon Community College, they brought along a small platoon of armed law enforcement officers.  They required all questions to be written on 3x5 index cards, then cherrypicked the ones they would deign to answer.  A second public meeting, on June 4 in Ravenna, dispensed with the armed officers but also utilized the selective 3x5 card process.  MDEQ officials have publicly admitted that while they will be using computer models and monitoring groundwater levels, they would not be likely to put a halt to drilling unless it was drying up some natural body of water. Individual landowners whose wells are affected will presumably have to sue the oil companies (good luck!) or eat crow. 

Neither is the MDEQ very reassuring on the pollution issues related to toxic fracking fluid and its ultimate disposition. (Thanks to the infamous "Halliburton Loophole," the companies do not even have to divulge all the ingredients) They talk of disposing it in deep injection wells where it will remain out of the hydrological cycle "during our lifetime," but don't say anything about the lifetimes of our children or grandchildren.  Water and other fluids can, it seems, migrate upward under the force of millions of tons of overlying rock and sediment and the pressure of natural gas.  Methane and hydrogen sulfide gas can also migrate upward into the remaining groundwater supply to produce something rather resembling lighter fluid. We are not supposed to worry about this, even though MDEQ officials concede that "there are no guarantees."(3) (4)

With a few notable exceptions, the citizens of Ravenna (sometimes nicknamed "Swansonville") do not seem unduly concerned about the possible threats to their health, businesses, or way of life.  Many perhaps believe that they will profit personally if oil and gas are found in the area. We suppose that the Swansons, who have not been forthcoming with any public statements, have already profited from whatever they were paid for their mineral rights, and may also be in a position to garner royalties from any oil or gas found beneath their property.  A few townspeople may be able to get jobs as truck drivers or pipe layers.  It seems that not many are aware of the possible negative aspects of the changes looming over their idyllic village and township.

(1)  Science #13, December 1968:  Vol. 162 no. 3859 pp. 1243-1248 DOI: 10,1126/science.162.3859.1243

(2)  See website

(3)  MDEQ official Rick Henderson, statement at Ravenna, MI public meeting, June 4, 2013.

(4)  MDEQ official Adam Wygant, statement at Muskegon Community College public meeting, May 1, 2013.

Copyright 2013 by R.W. Nye Group, LLC, all rights reserved.


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Filed Under: Fracking


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