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Great Lakes Article:

House OK's bill to ban lake drilling
Engler expected to sign, despite his support of increasing oil wells

Associated Press

   LANSING -- Legislation to prohibit new drilling for oil and natural gas under Michigan's portion of the Great Lakes is on its way to Gov. John Engler, who has opposed such a ban.
   The House voted 97-12 Tuesday to approve the bill that would permanently prohibit the state from issuing leases to drill under the lakes. The federal government's ban on such drilling is scheduled to end in September 2003.
   "This bill is the right environmental policy," said Republican Rep. Scott Shackleton of Sault Ste. Marie, who sponsored the bill. "It tells the federal government to keep their hands and their straws out of our Great Lakes."
   The bill would allow existing wells to continue operating. There are seven producing wells now in Manistee and Bay counties.
   Michigan is the only state bordering the Great Lakes that allows slant drilling.
   Rep. Julie Dennis, D-Muskegon, said the state has waited a long time for the drilling ban.
   "It's going to protect our lake shore," she said about the bill. "Thank God, Almighty, it's here at last."
   The House had to approve a few minor changes made by the Senate before sending the bill to Engler.
   Although Engler has supported increasing the number of wells under the Great Lakes, a spokeswoman has said she expects the bill to become law.
   Supporters of the bill say it will cap the potential danger of pollution to the Great Lakes. Opponents say slant drilling -- or drilling done at a diagonal from the shore -- is safe and that extensive resources lie under the lakes.
   Eight conservative Republicans voted against the bill, including Reps. Susan Tabor of Eaton County's Delta Township, Steve Vear of Hillsdale, Scott Hummel of DeWitt, Larry DeVuyst of Alma, Leon Drolet of Macomb County's Chesterfield Township, Clark Bisbee of Jackson, Ken Bradstreet of Gaylord and Cameron Brown of Sturgis.
   Six of Michigan's seven Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates support the drilling ban. GOP businessman Ed Hamilton is the only candidate who doesn't support the ban. Engler can't run for re-election because of term limits.
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