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Great Lakes Article:

U.S. Senate OKs 2-year moratorium on Great Lakes drilling
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- New oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes would be banned for another two years under an amendment passed by the Senate.

The measure would extend the current ban, which expires this September, until 2005. It's aimed at preventing Michigan from allowing more slant drilling under the Great Lakes from the state's shoreline.

Ohio and the other Great Lakes states do not allow drilling from rigs on the water. Michigan was the only state to allow directional drilling _ sometimes called slant drilling _ to reach deposits under the lake from shore. However, a law that took effect in April ends new slant drilling.

The Senate measure, sponsored by Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., was passed late Thursday as an amendment to the 2003 federal spending bill. It still must be approved by the House and signed into law.

Lake Erie is a major source of drinking water, Voinovich said. He estimates that natural gas production from the lake would meet only a fraction of Ohio's annual needs.

The state consumes 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year, according to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says Lake Erie would produce only about 20 billion cubic feet a year.

"Until a more permanent solution can be found, we need to make sure the current ban is extended to preserve the progress we've made in protecting the lakes," Voinovich said.

Oil and gas industry officials say directional drilling uses safe, time-proven technology and poses little risk of environmental catastrophe.
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