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E-M:/ Michigan Briefing, 8/25/97

Enviro-Mich message from "Mark Hanna" <hannama1@pilot.msu.edu>

Folks might be interested in this recent press release from the Michigan
Democratic Party regarding Great Lakes drilling.  Does anyone, maybe from the
DEQ, know more about this development?  Isn't the MESB the organization that
Engler has used in the past to find his science is the most accurate?

Mark Hanna

> The Michigan Briefing
> Monday, August 25, 1997
> A retreat from Principle
> Despite earlier interstate agreements to ban oil drilling in the Great Lakes,
> Engler is pondering more wellheads
> Last week, the Michigan Briefing (8/20/97, "Is Engler Angling to...?)
> reported that John Engler has ordered the Michigan Environmental Science
> Board to work with the Department of Environmental Quality to assess the
> impact of slant drilling under lake bottom lands in Michigan.  Permit
> requests for such directional drilling, where a well is drilled from onshore
> extending under the lake bed, are being received in increasing numbers by the
> Department of Environmental Quality.  Increasing the number of wellheads
> extracting oil from the Great Lakes bottomlands could significantly increase
> royalties paid to the State Treasury, benefit oil companies, and
> substantially increase the environmental and public health risks attendant to
> such drilling.  In the 1980s, the governors of the Great Lakes states signed
> a "Statement of Principle" against drilling in the Great Lakes.  Engler's
> narrowly defined study of directional drilling as a means of accessing lake
> bottom oil reserves is a clear indication that he is prepared to stray from
> previous agreements to forbid such drilling in the Great Lakes and it ignores
> the proven public health risks associated with the hydrogen sulfide
> byproducts of such drilling.  Engler's willingness to explore further oil
> drilling is a threat to the environment, a threat to public health and a
> retreat from principle.
> A threat to public health. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)is an explosive gas similar
> in toxicity to cyanide; it is a common byproduct of oil and gas development.
>  H2S is routinely brought to the surface by wells drilled into the mile-deep,
> oil-bearing Niagaran Salina formation, which runs in a diagonal strip across
> the northern Lower Peninsula from Mason County to Presque Isle.   A study
> conducted by the Michigan Land Use Institute in conjunction with the Health
> and Human Safety Committee chronicles 16 dangerous hydrogen sulfide accidents
> occurring between 1980 and 1997 at  coastal wellheads in Northern Michigan.
>  In the aftermath of these hydrogen sulfide releases near populated areas,
> Northern Michigan residents have experienced personal injuries,
> hospitalizations, emergency evacuations, livestock deaths and economic
> disruption.  Since 1986, at least 24 people, five of them children, have been
> seriously injured during four H2S releases in Northern Michigan. And since
> 1994, releases of H2S from pipelines and processing plants have killed 35
> head of cattle in Mason County. (Great Lakes Bulletin, Summer 1997)
>  Significantly, Engler has instructed the Environmental Science Board to
> examine risks to the Great Lakes Basin -- but not the risks of hydrogen
> sulfide exposure to residents living near directionally drilled wellheads.
> A threat to the environment.  Directional drilling for lake bottom oil
> requires the wellhead to be located in close proximity to the shoreline.
>  Risks attendant to any well head include spills and fires.  Because the
> wellheads would operate in close proximity to the Lake Basin, there can exist
> no guarantee that an accident would not imperil the Great Lakes ecosystem.
> A retreat from principle.  In the 80's, the governors of Michigan, Indiana,
> Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Minnesota and New York --
> Republicans and Democrats alike -- were agreed that any threat to the
> viability of the Lakes was too great a threat to risk.  These governors
> signed a statement of principle saying: "The bottomlands of the Great Lakes
> are the exclusive property of the states that border them and anyone wishing
> to drill for oil would need the express permission of the state that owns the
> land in question.  However, we agree that this precious resource(the Great
> Lakes) should not be vulnerable to oil drilling and its attendant dangers.
>  Therefore, we collectively state our opposition to oil drilling in the
> waters of the Great Lakes or their connecting channels."
> Paid for by the Michigan Democratic Party
> For a toll-free audio update on Federal and state issues and State Party
> activities, call 1-800-DEMSFYI
> Problems with the transmission?  Fax number, E-mail address change?  Call
> Steve or Miyoshi at (517)371-5410

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