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E-M:/ Lake Michigan Federation releases report on drilling for gas and oil in the Great Lakes



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Enviro-Mich message from Liz Vos <lvos@lakemichigan.org>
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With all of the debate going on about gas and oil drilling, we wanted to
remind you of a report available from the 
Lake Michigan Federation

For more information, contact:
Tanya Cabala, Lake Michigan Federation (231) 722-5116,
tcabala@lakemichigan.org
						
Lawmakers Stupak, Dennis and Peters / Public Interest Organization Call for
Permanent Ban on Oil and Gas Drilling Under Lake Michigan

New Lake Michigan Federation Report says Health of Public and
Lake’s Ecosystems are at Risk

March 14, 2001    Lansing, MI - As the State of Michigan moves to the brink
of lifting a temporary ban on oil and gas drilling under Lake Michigan, the
oldest citizens’ Great Lakes organization and lawmakers today called for a
permanent ban on drilling that would stop energy companies from destroying
the lake’s natural habitat and shield against toxic contaminant exposure
resulting from drilling operations.

The Lake Michigan Federation, joined by U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak
(D-Michigan) and Michigan State Representative Julie Dennis (D-92nd) and
Senator Gary Peters (D-14), backed up their demand by issuing a new report
that concludes “drilling under Lake Michigan is a venture that has serious
implications for the overall health and use of the lake by its communities.”
Congressman Stupak was not present at the press conference, which was held
in Lansing at the State Capitol.

“There are too many risks to the Great Lakes, their coastlines and
communities, and too little interest by the state of Michigan to address
them satisfactorily,” said Tanya Cabala, author of the report and
Coordinator of Land & Water Conservation Programs for the Lake Michigan
Federation.  “Michigan citizens overwhelmingly oppose drilling for oil and
gas under Lake Michigan and the evidence shows that the state, in lobbying
for drilling, can’t be the objective regulator it needs to be in order to
give the public confidence that it will make decisions in an objective
manner.”

Timing of the demand is crucial, as the State of Michigan is poised to lift
its temporary moratorium which currently prohibits the leasing of Great
Lakes bottomlands owned by the state to companies intending to drill under
the Great Lakes to reach oil and gas reserves.  Lifting the moratorium will
clear the way for companies to obtain leases and drilling permits and begin
extracting oil and gas from under the lake.  

The Federation’s report sites numerous environmental hazards that can result
from horizontal drilling which involves first drilling wells vertically and
then at an angle from the shore to reserves beneath the Great Lakes.  One of
the most serious impacts is the deadly threat to citizens of hydrogen
sulfide exposure from pipeline ruptures and valve or gasket failures.  In
addition, drilling has enormous ecological consequences such as contaminated
groundwater seeping into rivers, wetlands, and lakes, and harming plant and
wildlife species, and important natural areas such as sand dunes, coastal
wetlands, and floodplains. 

In support of a permanent ban, Congressman Stupak today introduced federal
legislation in Washington D.C. and Representative Dennis and Senator Peters
have recently introduced state legislation that would permanently ban
drilling under the Great Lakes.   According to Dennis, "We need to weigh the
risks and the benefits to the oil and gas drilling.  Not only do we have
environmental risks but also health and economic risks.  To blindly ignore
the public outcry in the past and the recent polling by EPIC-MRA opposing
the drilling does not serve Michigan citizens well."

Major findings of the Federation’s report include:

*	The DEQ actively promotes exploitation of the oil and gas under the
Great Lakes while being charged with objective regulatory decision-making on
lake drilling proposals.  The agency cannot do both.

	*	The State of Michigan does not have an adequate programmatic
and regulatory framework through which to provide proper oversight of
drilling under Lake Michigan. 

*	“Clean Energy” from renewable fuel sources is already on the market
and being used increasingly.  Rather than accessing the remaining small
reserves left in the U.S., such as under the Great Lakes, which is expensive
and environmentally damaging, funds and support should go to refining and
speeding up the development and use of renewable technologies, in addition
to increased use of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

The Lake Michigan Federation compiled the report to help citizens understand
the public, environmental and economic issues related to oil and gas
drilling under the Great Lakes and offer recommendations to safeguard them.

Formed in 1970, the Lake Michigan Federation is the oldest citizens’
membership-based organization in North America.  Its mission is to restore
fish and wildlife habitat, conserve land and water, and eliminate toxic
pollution in the watershed of the largest lake within the United States.
This is achieved through education, research, law, science, economics and
strategic partnerships.

You can view the report at
http://www.lakemichigan.org/conservation/oil.asp



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