the Great Lakes from drilling
Gov. Dick Posthumus and state House and Senate Republicans
say drilling for gas and oil beneath the Great Lakes is
not worth the risk.
issue: A state Senate task force recommends
further study before allowing drilling under the lakes.
view: We welcome bipartisan Senate support
for concerns over pollution of Michigan waterways.
The political process works best when elected officials
realize there's strong public support for an important
issue, such as protecting our state's waterways.
Since this is an election year, there surely will be plenty
of environmental champions lining up to protect and preserve
The big issue here is directional drilling under the Great
The controversial process has been debated all the way
to Congress, where a call for new drilling has been placed
in a holding pattern, thanks to legislation sponsored
by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
But lobbyists for directional drilling will not give up
putting pressure on Gov. John Engler to lift a moratorium
on drilling permits that he installed after taking office
11 years ago.
Though Engler remains insistent that directional drilling
has proved to be a safe process, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus
and state House and Senate Republicans say drilling for
gas and oil beneath the Great Lakes is not worth the risk,
and they want Congress to retain the ban on new drilling
State Sen. Ken Sikkema, R-Grandville, chairman of the
Senate's Great Lakes Conservation Task Force that recently
released an 81-page report, said the task force listed
concerns of residents who attended the eight public hearings
held throughout the state. They are most concerned about
sewage overflows, the threatened ecosystem in the Great
Lakes, repeated beach closings and the large amount of
water withdrawn from the lakes that threatens the quality
and quantity of our drinking water. There is also great
concern over the drilling for oil and gas along the Great
Lakes, including shallow Lake St. Clair.
Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow, R-Port Huron, and state
Sen. Ken DeBeaussart, D-Mount Clemens, said the task force
report, titled "Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes,"
has strong bipartisan support.
"I live on these lakes. I am committed to this report,"
President Bush signed legislation on Nov. 14 that imposes
a 2-year moratorium on federal and state governments'
leasing mineral or drilling rights in or around the Great
The secretary of the Army was instructed to conduct and
submit to Congress a report assessing known and potential
effects of oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes.
The state task force said the risk of contamination to
the Great Lakes is relatively small, but drilling would
pose a greater impact on shoreline environments and other
The task force said, "The people of Michigan live, work,
recreate and care passionately about the Great Lakes and
the natural resources of the state and want the state
to play an important leadership role."
While recommendations raised by the task force may be
stalled for a while because of the nation's economic downturn,
Sikkema said some results can be achieved through basic
We wholeheartedly agree.
The task force's pledge for cleaner waterways reassures
our county, which has seen its share of beach closings
since 1994 because of high levels of E. coli bacteria
contaminants, that the state cares about our waterways.
Citing 14 of the state's most polluted waterways, the
task force said Macomb County's Clinton River is one of
the "areas of concern," pointing to its heavy pollution
from metals, PCBs, pesticides and other chemical compounds
from various industries and municipal waste water treatment
Recommendations outlined in the task force report reaffirm
what Macomb County's Water Quality Board has know for
years. Our waterways remain threatened, and further directional
drilling for oil and gas under the Great Lakes requires
more study before approval can be considered.
The task force said, "The Great Lakes have sustained us
and our way of life for many generations, and we have
not always shown them the respect and care they deserve."
Delaying protection of our waterways today will only triple
cleanup costs tomorrow. And that might be too late.
We welcome the visionary conclusions of the task force
A good cause is a just cause.