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GLIN==> Voinovich urges state officials to oppose drilling in Lake Erie

Posted on behalf of Kelly M. Fitzhugh <Kelly_Fitzhugh@voinovich.senate.gov>

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 13, 2001

CONTACT: Scott Milburn or Sara Perkins
(202) 224-7784


WASHINGTON – In response to suggestions that the current energy crisis
requires reversing Ohio’s 30-year ban on oil and gas drilling in Lake Erie,
U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) is urging state officials to hold
fast and protect the lake.

Voinovich sent a letter to Gov. Bob Taft and also spoke by phone with Ohio
Department of Natural Resources Director Sam Speck urging them to oppose
reversing the ban on drilling in Lake Erie.

As a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, Voinovich sponsored the
first moratorium on oil and gas exploration in Lake Erie and urged his
fellow legislators in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania to pass
resolutions calling on their respective governors also to oppose exploratory

“I have fought the battle to save Lake Erie since the late 1960's, and we
are winning.  The dying lake of that era is now Ohio’s greatest natural
resource.  Lake Erie is a major source for drinking water and a recreational
gem that has helped encourage growth and brought economic benefits.
Drilling could undo everything and wind up wasting the billions of dollars
that have been spent to clean up the lake,” said Voinovich.  “The potential
risks are great and the benefits minimal.  It doesn’t make sense.”

Preliminary estimates indicate that Lake Erie natural gas production would
meet only the smallest fraction of Ohio’s annual needs.  According to the
Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the state consumes 1 trillion cubic feet of
natural gas annually while U.S. Department of Energy statistics indicate
that Ohio produced 98 billion cubic feet
of gas in 1999.  Lake Erie production, as estimated by the Ohio Department
of Natural Resources, could be roughly 20 billion cubic feet annually--just
two percent of the state’s annual needs.

More than 2.6 million Ohioans live in North Shore counties.

“The current energy crisis should not be viewed as a window of opportunity
to undo a 30-year ban which provides so much protection to the lake and the
people who depend on it.  Dealing with our long-term need to diversify
energy resources means looking into clean coal technology, alternatives and
renewables, and tapping petroleum and natural gas where there are much
greater reserves.  The potential yield compared to the potential damage
doesn’t make good sense in this case,” said Voinovich.



March 12, 2001

The Honorable Bob Taft
Governor of Ohio
77 S High St, 30th Floor
Columbus, OH   43266

Dear Governor Taft:

I read this morning in the Plain Dealer that there is consideration being
given to exploratory drilling for natural gas in Lake Erie.  As one who led
the charge against this drilling back in the late sixties, initiating
resolutions in the Ohio, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania state
legislatures urging their respective governors to oppose exploratory
drilling, and as one who helped enact legislation instituting a moratorium
any natural gas or oil exploration, I am dismayed that the issue would be

As you know, Governor, Lake Erie is Ohio’s greatest natural asset, a major
source of drinking water and a boating, fishing, and transportation
resource.  Gas exploration and production simply are not the best use of our
Great Lake.  As you know from reading the Lake Erie Quality Index that we
put together 1998, significant improvements have been made in Lake Erie in
the last 30 years.  A copy of the report is attached for your

In addition, you and I both realize Lake Erie has had a tremendous economic
impact on the State of Ohio in terms of recreation and fishing.  The
vitality of the lake has brought people back to it, as seen in the growth of
Put-In-Bay, Kelley’s Island, Marblehead, Catawba Island and the cities along
the western basin.  I consider my efforts to preserve and protect our Great
Lake to be among the most significant of my career--and of my life--and I am
strongly opposed to anything that could undo the important progress that has
been made to bring the lake back from the brink.

I appreciate your consideration of this critical manner and I look forward
to working with you to continue to protect this wonderful and important Ohio
natural resource.



George Voinovich
United States Senator

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