Lake drilling ban needs to extend
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
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.