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