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E-M:/ Prompt Action Needed on Great Lakes Drilling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    Contact:  Tanya Cabala (616) 850-0745

January 25, 2002                                                                                        Cyndi Roper (616) 742-4084

                                                                                                                   James Clift (517) 487-9539

Prompt Senate Action Needed to Stop Great Lakes Drilling

Environmental groups are calling on the State Senate and the Governor to move quickly on legislation needed to stop drilling beneath the Great Lakes.  The groups are concerned that four new drilling leases currently being considered by the Department of Natural Resources could be approved while legislation banning directional drilling is being debated in the Senate.

A ban on directional drilling below the lakes passed the Michigan House of Representatives Thursday on a strong bipartisan vote of 98-7.  “We appreciate the Michigan House of Representatives moving quickly on this piece of legislation.” said James Clift, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental Council.  The bill now moves to the Michigan Senate.

An amendment introduced on the House floor during the voting Thursday would have guaranteed drilling permits to applicants who receive a lease before the bill is signed into law. Though the amendment was defeated on a vote of 21-82, the window of opportunity for new leases remains open.  Under the bill as passed by the House, no new drilling permits would be issued for directional drilling regardless of whether an applicant has received a lease.

“The people of Michigan recognize that the Great Lakes and their coastlines are priceless and irreplaceable resources,” said Tanya Cabala, Michigan Director of the Lake Michigan Federation. “The people have made it clear—they want the Great Lakes protected for their children and they expect the government to get it done.”  

“We are calling on the State Senate and the Governor to move quickly to close the door to oil and gas drillers and permanently ban drilling below the lakes,” said Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action.  The group is one of several citizen organizations sponsoring a public forum in Grand Rapids to explain their concerns to legislators.

All 20 western Michigan legislators have been invited to attend the forum.

What:             “Save our Shoreline” public forum

When:             7 p.m., Monday, January 28, 2002. 

Where:            Aquinas College, Room 141 of the Lacks Center
 159 Woodward Lane, Grand Rapids

House Great Lakes2.doc