to ban Great Lakes drilling included in Energy bill
By Ken Thomas
Posted on timesleader.com on July 26, 2005
WASHINGTON - Oil and gas drilling would be banned in the
Great Lakes under a measure adopted by House and Senate
negotiators on Tuesday.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, had sought the prohibition
amid concerns that the Great Lakes, a large source of
drinking water and integral part of the state's tourism
industry, could be threatened by an oil spill.
A temporary ban on drilling was set by Congress in 2001
and has been extended twice. The moratorium is set to
expire in 2007.
"We have had several victories with temporary bans
on drilling, but this provision is a permanent ban which
will protect our country's most valuable fresh water resource
for generations to come," Stupak said.
Stupak's amendment to the bill would prevent new permits
or leases for oil and gas drilling in or under the Great
Lakes. The measure was supported by Rep. John Dingell,
D-Dearborn, and Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph.
The Great Lakes supply drinking water to more than 30
million people and make up about 20 percent of the world's
fresh surface water.
Stupak and other members of Congress who represent districts
around the lakes have said the permanent ban would prevent
a state legislature or governor from allowing drilling.
Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio have
drilling bans in their states, but the bans are not found
in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, has opposed Stupak's approach,
arguing that the powers should be left to the states in
the region. Rogers, who also opposes drilling in the lakes,
has said the federal ban could empower western states
to gain access to drinking water from the Great Lakes
in the future.
The drilling ban was agreed to Tuesday as part of a broad
agreement on the energy bill. The bill is expected to
be voted on by the House and Senate later in the week.