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Great Lakes Article:

Lake drilling ban needs to extend internationally
The News-Messenger

Ohio is taking strong steps to protect Lake Erie by opposing oil and natural gas drilling in Lake Erie. Two actions signal the state's resolve on the issue:

In July, Gov. Bob Taft quietly signed an executive order that bans drilling for the remainder of his term.

Last week, a state House Energy Policy Committee issued a report that recommends against such drilling.

We're happy to see such action because of Lake Erie's importance to our region, both in terms of tourism and travel and in terms of drinking water. The potential for pollution -- however remote -- is too much of a risk.

"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," said the report by the 35-member House committee.

This is not just an Ohio issue, however. Some other states on the Great Lakes ban or limit drilling, but the biggest issue is an international one.

Our newspaper's Columbus bureau recently reported that Natural Resources Canada officials say that Canada does not ban energy exploration in the lake and has 1,000 natural gas rigs off Lake Erie's shore in Ontario.

Ohio and other Great Lakes states need to force this issue with other states and with Canada through Great Lakes coalitions and the International Joint Commission, which includes officials from both countries.

Through its actions, Canada is enjoying the benefits of natural gas and oil drilling but putting the U.S. side at risk. That's an unacceptable situation.

Ohio first needs to make sure it is doing everything it needs to to protect Ohio's shoreline from energy exploration. Then, it needs to organize states along the U.S. side of the Great Lakes to make sure everyone is on board. Finally, Ohio and the other states can present a united front to put pressure on Canada to end its drilling practices.

The fresh water in the Great Lakes is far too important to risk energy exploration.

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