Senate panel approves Richardvilles measure to further protect Great Lakes from drilling
LANSING — A resolution to help protect the health of the Great Lakes from offshore or directional drilling for oil and gas was approved Wednesday by the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, said sponsor Sen. Randy Richardville.
“Our Great Lakes are incredibly important to the state of Michigan as the activities they support are critical to the state’s economy as well as the enjoyment of residents and tourists,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “We must act quickly to ensure their protection from a disaster like the one in the Gulf.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 48 urges the inclusion of a ban on new oil and gas drilling beneath the Great Lakes in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
This regional agreement helped shape the recently enacted Great Lakes Basin Compact and forms the basis for a coordinated basin-wide approach to protecting the lakes.
The resolution also encourages the Great Lakes Governors’ Council to study and assess the impacts of gas spill from offshore Canadian drilling on the lakes.
Michigan enacted a statutory ban of offshore drilling within the Great Lakes in 1982 and followed up with a ban of directional drilling in 2002. Each of the bans apply to both oil and natural gas drilling.
Currently, no state within the Great Lakes Basin has a constitutional ban in place on offshore or directional drilling beneath the lakes. Michigan, Wisconsin and New York, however, have individual bans and Ohio has an executive order in place prohibiting drilling in the lakes.
All basin states are party to a non-binding agreement not to allow drilling beneath the lakes.
“A catastrophic spill can happen despite precautions being taken,” Richardville said. “The risk to the Great Lakes water quality far outweighs the economic benefit of any oil that could be withdrawn.”
Other important measures introduced in the Senate includes:
- Senate Joint Resolution Z, which proposes a constitutional amendment to prohibit the drilling of oil or gas wells within the Great Lakes, beneath the bottomlands or the connecting waterways of the lakes; and
- Senate Resolution 168, which urges the Great Lakes states and the Province of Ontario to permanently ban any new oil and gas drilling beneath the Great Lakes.
Since 1913, approximately 2,200 vertical gas extraction wells have been drilled in Canada under Lake Erie. About 550 are currently active.
SCR 48 will now go to the full Senate for further consideration.
Posted: Thursday, July 01, 2010
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