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E-M:/ Capitol Update Oil and Gas Drilling - October 18, 2001



Two hearing were held this week on the issue of oil and gas drilling below the Great Lakes, one in the House and one in the Senate.

Senate

The Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee had its meeting on Tuesday, October 16, 2001, where they took up:

SR 112 Stille - A resolution to urge the Department of Natural Resources not to approve any leases that may result in slant drilling under the Great Lakes prior to completion of the goals and objectives of the Senate Great Lakes Conservation Task Force.

This resolution follows action in the Senate on September 20, 2001, when Sen. Peters moved to discharge his bill SB 9 (to ban drilling below the lakes) from the committee and bring it before the full Senate.  The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Dan Degrow moved to postpone the vote until January 30, 2002, which prevailed on a party line vote.  One of the reasons given for the postponement was so that the Great Lakes Task Force could complete its public meetings around the state and make its recommendations to the full Senate.

The committee passed the non-binding resolution SR 112.  The committee chairman did make the statement that he promised his Senate colleagues that they would be given the chance to vote on a bill banning directional drilling below the lakes before any leases were granted by the DNR.

House

On Thursday, October 18, 2001 the House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Committee took testimony on HB 5118 (Rep. Shackleton) and HB 5081 (Rep. Vander Veen).  Both of these bills would ban drilling blow the lake unless a State of Energy Emergency was called by the Governor or the legislature.  The committee was unable to hear testimony from all the groups wishing to testify. Tanya Cabala from the Lake Michigan Federation did an excellent job presenting the case against drilling.  The committee chair, Rep. Larry DeVuyst announced that a subcommittee would hold another hearing in Western Michigan, then the committee would meet again in Lansing and vote on the bills in early December.

In the meantime, four applications to drill below the Great Lakes have been received by the DNR.  It is the position of MEC that this is no time for resolutions.  The legislature needs to act now to ban this practice.

Submitted by:

James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539