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GLIN==> Corps of Engineers Completes Impact Study on Oil & Gas Drilling in Great Lakes

Submitted by Jan Miller <Jan.A.Miller@lrdgl.usace.army.mil>

Corps of Engineers Completes Impact Study on Oil & Gas Drilling in Great Lakes


On Monday, May 8, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a briefing for Congressional staff on the recently completed Report to Congress entitled the "Known and Potential Environmental Impacts of Oil and Gas Drilling Activity in the Great Lakes."   This report was directed by Congress in Section 503 of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2002


Deposits of oil and gas are present underneath four of the five Great Lakes (Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario).  Oil and gas resources under the Great Lakes have been accessed in the past by both the United States and in Canada via vertical drilling or onshore via directional or horizontal drilling. Vertical wells are drilled directly into the lake bottom and extended vertically downward. Directional and horizontal wells are first drilled on the shore and then extended under the lake via an angled boring. Approximately 2,200 vertical gas extraction wells have been drilled in Canada under Lake Erie since 1913, and 13 oil and gas wells have been drilled in Michigan under Lake Michigan and Lake Huron via horizontal drilling since 1979. 

This study reviews existing information and characterizes the environmental effects of oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes, including the effects on the shorelines and water of the Great Lakes. The final report serves informational purposes only and does not address any particular Federal action. The following subjects are described in the report:

·    Technologies currently used for oil and gas drilling exploration and extraction.

·    Environmental effects associated with oil and gas drilling both in the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

·    Regulatory background affecting oil and gas exploration in the Great Lakes as well as other environmental regulations and policies that could apply if exploration and development were to occur.

·    Environmental setting of the Great Lakes Basin including the distribution and status of oil and gas resources, other natural resources (such as fish and wildlife, wetlands, and water quality), and human activities (such as recreation, land and water use, and shipping) within the region.

·    Types of effects and the resources that could be affected if the oil and gas resources beneath the Great Lakes were to be developed.


The Corps of Engineers coordinated this study with other Federal agencies through the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force.  The study was also coordinated with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Historical Society, and Ohio State University.


The full report is currently available on the project website at www.lrc.usace.army.mil/GrtLakes/OilGas/index-oilgas.html.


Point of Contact for more information on this study is Ms. Megan Hurst, Chicago District, 312-846-5517, megan.m.hurst@usace.army.mil.