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Engler Administration Promoting Oil/Gas Drilling under Great Lakes



>From Anne Woiwode of the Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter:

From: anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 99 14:06:51 -0800
To: <enviro-mich@great-lakes.net>
Subject: E-M:/ Engler pushing drilling for oil and gas under Great Lakes
Sender: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Reply-To: anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
List-Name: Enviro-Mich

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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Folks:

Evidently Governor Engler is a strong advocate of increased oil and gas
drilling under the Great Lakes, although to find that out you have to connect
up with the minutes of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC),
an organization made up of the governors of a number of oil and gas producing
states.  One of Michigan's representative to the IOGCC (Hal Fitch) at their
December 98 Annual meeting pushed and got passed a resolution supporting oil
and gas development under the Great Lakes through directional drilling.  This
shows up in the minutes of the IOGCC, and I have the resolution itself below.
The minutes show this:

"(Don) Mason moved the consideration of resolution 98.122 and Hal Fitch spoke 
in favor of the Michigan-sponsored resolution.  He said the wells under the 
lake have had significant production.  He said the federal legislation 
introduced would prohibit any drilling under the Great lakes, or from a 
reservoir that extends under the Great Lakes.  The benefits far outweigh any 
detriment.  He emphasized that these are not wells in the water but are 
directionally drilled.  After discussion and a clarifying amendment, the 
resolution was approved by all, with the exception of Mason who abstained."
     
All of this shows up on the web site of the IOGCC

< http://www.iogcc.oklaosf.state.ok.us > 

under the Annual Meeting minutes from December 1998.  Other resolutions that
promote the expansion of oil and gas development by the states and grapple
with the declining price of these resources show up there as well.

Senator Schuette's bill, SB 28, on Oil and Gas development under the Great
Lakes both provides some greater strictures than the current law, but also
seems to create some loopholes, most notably that there are setback provisions
of 1500 ft. from the high water mark for directional drilling, but that these
are sunsetted in 10 years -- currently the law has setbacks behind the high
water mark, and no sunset provision.  Also Schuette calls for variances to be
allowed for drilling closer than 1500' but requiring public hearings be held
to do that.

Since, as I understand it, the State of Michigan is the owner of all the
mineral rights under the bottomlands of the Great Lakes, this sudden interest
in supporting development of these reserves, especially when an oil glut has
driven prices lower than they have ever been, raises LOTS of questions.  Why
now?  Who is waiting to buy up all of Michigan's Great Lakes bottom lands
mineral reserves?  What's the rush -- the bid prices on these rights have to
be at the lowest point ever, so the State can't possibly expect to make a lot
of money in developing these resources.  Anyone care to comment?

Anne Woiwode
     
RESOLUTION 98.122
     
In Support of Directional Drilling for the Extraction of Oil and Gas Beneath 
the Waters of the Great Lakes
     
Whereas, significant oil and gas reserves are known to underlie the waters of 
the Great Lakes, and additional reserves are inferred to underlie those 
waters; and
     
Whereas, extraction of oil and gas underlying the waters of the Great Lakes 
confers substantial benefits upon the citizens of the adjoining states and of 
the United States; and
     
Whereas, oil and gas underlying the waters of the Great Lakes can be extracted 
utilizing directional drilling from sites on adjacent uplands isolated from 
the Great Lakes shoreline; and
     
Whereas, the risk of contamination of the waters or bottomlands of the Great 
Lakes from a subsurface loss of oil, gas, or brine from the wellbore of a 
directional well is immeasurably small; and
     
Whereas, thousands of directional wells have been successfully drilled in the 
past thirty years, including at least 13 wells beneath the waters of the 
Great Lakes; and
     
Whereas, directional drilling is a proven, sound technology and should be 
promoted as a means to develop oil and gas resources which underlie 
environmentally-sensitive areas and to decrease disturbance of the surface by 
consolidating drilling locations; and
     
Whereas, the states strictly and effectively regulate oil and gas well 
drilling and production to minimize impacts on the environment and on other 
natural resources; and
     
Whereas, setback requirements and other appropriate protective measures are 
imposed by the states to provide proper and effective protection of the 
shoreline areas of the Great Lakes;
     
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved, that the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact 
Commission hereby supports and approves of the extraction of oil and gas 
underlying the waters of the Great Lakes by means of directional drilling from 
upland sites, and opposes efforts to prohibit such extraction;
     
And Be It Further Resolved, that the states should retain the authority to 
regulate extraction of oil and gas from beneath the waters of the Great 
Lakes.
     
December 1998



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