ellis BOAL


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Ellis Boal is an attorney in Charlevoix, Michigan, and a leading activist in the ban fracking movement. He specializes in labor and employment law, representing employees, union members, and unions.

He has appeared in federal courts from Michigan to Nevada to Puerto Rico, at the National Labor Relations Board and other agencies, and before the courts of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Two of his federal cases for worker rights set precedents that are studied in law schools and cited by courts around the country.

He was drawn into the fracking issue in 2010 when his family received a letter from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources which said mineral rights under family land might soon be auctioned off.  It proved not to be the case, but his interest was piqued and he began attending meetings.

At the time of this interview he had two cases in the Michigan court of appeals to limit fracking.  One would require the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to apply the state’s longstanding injection well disclosure rules to frack wells, so adjacent landowners can efficiently baseline test their water.  Unlike federal law, Michigan has no “Halliburton loophole” exempting frack wells from injection rules.

The other case was remanded to the Public Service Commission in April 2013 after the Commission declined notice to the community and ignored environmental issues in granting two pipeline applications.  The case seeks to stop the pipelines, that the forest ecosystem be protected from fragmentation and introduction of exotic species due to the cumulative effect of the hundreds more frack wells and pipelines that are planned by the industry in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula.

Boal is counsel to the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a ballot question committee gathering signatures for a voter proposal in November 2014, to ban horizontal fracking and wastes in Michigan, and reverse the state’s statutory policy requiring environmental regulators to foster the oil-gas industry and maximize oil-gas production.