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Great Lakes Article:

Environmentalists praise Lakes drilling ban


By Hawke Fracassa /
Article courtesy of The Detroit News

Nov. 2, 2001

   ST. CLAIR SHORES -- Activist Dee Macko sees the decision by Congress on Thursday to ban new oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes as wise, and environmentally smart.
   "They have no business drilling (in the Great Lakes) because that is drinking water for millions of us," said Macko, 66, of St. Clair Shores. "If we lose (the water), we're dead. There's no guarantee that drilling is 100-percent safe and that you won't have accidents. Congress was right to say 'Stay out of the Great Lakes.'"
   The ban comes as President Bush is pushing for more domestic energy production. But even slant drilling from the shoreline into the lakes is hotly opposed by many people in the state.
   James Fisher, a retired Michigan State University professor of petroleum geology, said it's a victory for Michigan's shorelines.
   "The shoreline is valuable property and from an esthetic point of view the idea of intruding with rigs is objectionable to some people," Fisher said. "If I had a seaside cottage, I wouldn't want a rig in my back yard, and now there will be no more of them for awhile."
   But he added environmentalists' fears that the lakes would be polluted by oil and gas are negligible.
   "As far as petroleum geologists are concerned, it is not a big deal," he said.
   "As a naturalist, I want the natural environment preserved. But at the same time, I have worked in the oil industry and it employs a lot of people and produces a product that's of importance."
   Under Congress' plan, the Great Lakes provision would prevent federal agencies from issuing permits for new drilling in them through Sept. 30, 2003, while the government produces a study on the environmental effects that such drilling might have.

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