Ban Lake Erie drilling
By Jim Siegel
Port Clinton News Herald
COLUMBUS -- A state committee that spent 18 months studying
Ohio's current energy resources has recommended that no
oil or natural gas drilling take place in Lake Erie.
The House Energy Policy Committee, a 35-member group,
issued a report this week on a variety of energy topics,
including oil and gas drilling.
The lack of natural resources discovered in other parts
of the country should not prompt the state to drill here,
the report said.
"While the members heard testimony that natural
gas and oil supplies in the Gulf of Mexico are not as
abundant as experts previously thought, the committee
agrees that Lake Erie should be protected from oil and
gas exploration," the report said.
Bryan Clark, conservation program coordinator for the
Sierra Club Ohio Chapter, said he was pleasantly surprised
to see the committee support a ban on drilling.
"The committee decided Lake Erie is too important
to allow it to be threatened by oil and gas drilling,"
Clark said what's important now is the next step. He
wants to see Ohio pass a law to ban drilling in Lake Erie
-- a major source of drinking water.
Gov. Bob Taft signed an executive order in July banning
all oil and gas drilling in Lake Erie. The order will
remain in effect until his term ends on Dec. 31, 2006.
To make such an order permanent would require a state
law. House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island,
has tried to pass such a law for the past few years, but
thus far the bill has seen little legislative action.
The Ohio Oil and Gas Association has opposed a drilling
ban, saying exploration is safe and a ban keeps residents
from gaining access to more affordable natural gas supplies
just off shore.
The report also said Ohio needs a more coordinated statewide
policy to regulate drilling activity, noting the "myriad
of local ordinances has created some confusion."
It said the state should craft more specific language
outlining what activities can be regulated at the local
"The members believe that such a new policy could
help increase the exploration and drilling of natural
resources and petroleum," the report said.