|Avoiding an Oil Spill in the Great Lakes|
The recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf raises the question of whether the Great Lakes may some day face a similar situation. Although a parallel event has not yet occurred in this region, we must work hard to prevent it from taking place.
Part of the reason for the large amount of effort required tocombat such a catastrophe is that interest in oil and gas drilling has been present in the Great Lakes basin for years, despite the fact that the area possesses an amount of reserves that, by some estimates, would provide only enough supplies to keep the United States running for two minutes.
The debate about drilling for fossil fuels began in 1997. John Engler, Michigan’s governor at the time, attempted to lift a temporary moratorium that had prevented new drilling in the lakes. Engler’s move would have allowed the leasing of lake bottomlands owned by the state. Although a study on the effects of new drilling would have been necessary before a lift ing of the moratorium could occur at that time, early 2001 saw a re-introduction of the measure.
The area beneath Lake Michigan became off-limits to new gas and oil drilling the following year, carrying a national prohibition of the practice past its 2003 expiration date. In 2005, Congress made permanent a separate, temporary ban of Great Lakes off shore and directional gas and oil drilling.
The Great Lakes Boating Federation aims to help keep the Great Lakes, which encompass 20 percent of the world’s freshwater resources, free and clear of any drilling for gas or oil.