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E-M:/ People Win Victory as Drilling Ban Becomes Law

For Immediate Release
For More Information:
April 5, 2002
Brian Imus, PIRGIM
Brad Garmon, MEC

People Win Victory as Drilling Ban Becomes Law
Governor Grudgingly Bows to Citizen's Demand for Clean Lakes 
While celebrating the permanent protection of a priceless resource,
environmental and public interest groups were disappointed today to hear the
Governor belittle the important state mandate by characterizing the people
of Michigan as "misled" in demanding protection for the Great Lakes.
Governor Engler announced he would neither sign nor veto a bill passed
overwhelmingly by the legislature that bans drilling underneath the Great
Lakes, allowing the bill to become law today. The passage of the bill ends a
long battle by the Michigan Oil and Gas Association and Governor Engler to
expand drilling underneath the Great Lakes. 
"The Governor would rather support the oil and gas industry than acknowledge
the research that shows the potential benefits from drilling do not outweigh
the harmful environmental and public health impacts. The state legislature
should be commended for acting on the science and was right to take action
on the overwhelming sentiment held by Michigan voters that drilling is an
unacceptable risk" stated Brian Imus, Campaign Director for the non-profit
group PIRGIM.
"This is a victory for the people of Michigan, who have made it clear from
the beginning that the Great Lakes are a resource they simply don't want
trifled with," said Brad Garmon, of the Michigan Environmental Council.
"It's a refreshing and hopeful example of government working for the people,
and shouldn't be underestimated. The public made its priorities clear and
kept after the state government to make sure their mandate was heard and
action taken. "
PIRGIM research conducted over the last year provides strong evidence that
drilling is a risk not worth taking. Toxic chemicals used in the drilling
process damage the unique ecosystem found along the Great Lakes shoreline
and pose a threat to public health. During the course of directional
drilling, oil, water or synthetic oil is combined with other chemicals to
form a toxic drilling mixture that is circulated through the well hole.
These mixtures frequently contain toxic materials such as oil and grease,
suspended solids, phenol, arsenic, chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury,
naturally occurring radioactive materials, and barium. 
The potential benefits to be had from drilling do not outweigh the harmful
environmental and public health impacts. While there is no reliable estimate
on oil and natural gas deposits accessible from Michigan's shoreline,
consider the current result of Michigan drilling. In the last 22 years, from
1979 through 2000, directional drilling under Michigan's Great Lakes
produced 439,000 barrels of oil and 17.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
That amount of energy is enough to supply Michigan with oil for 18.5 hours
and gas for 7.1 days, at 1999 rates of consumption.[5] This is simply not
worth the risk to the Great Lakes.
For more information on the economic, public health and environmental
impacts associated with drilling, please visit www.pirgim.org
<http://www.pirgim.org> to access the report Dirty Drilling: The Threat of
Oil and Gas Drilling in Michigan's Great Lakes

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