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Proposals in House will protect Michigan’s lakes, economy

LANSINGClean Water Action today applauded a state House panel for moving forward a proposed permanent ban on oil drilling in the Great Lakes and called on the full House to act quickly ensure Michigan doesn’t become the next oil disaster zone with devastating consequences to local communities dependent on tourism, fishing and other industries.

““The House must act quickly so Big Oil does not turn Michigan into the next petrochemical disaster zone that will devastate our economy, kill local jobs and destroy our Great Lakes,” said Clean Water Action Michigan Director Cyndi Roper. “The House has an opportunity to send a strong signal that people come first, not Big Oil profits. Our Great Lakes define Michigan, and that’s why we cannot afford to leave open the door to a BP-style catastrophe that will devastate Michigan for generations.”

The House Great Lakes and Environment Committee today approved a package of bills that will:

  • Ban drilling in or beneath the bottomlands of the Great Lakes if voters approve a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution.
  • Ban new oil and gas drilling in or beneath the Great Lakes in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
  • Call on other Great Lakes states and the Canadian province of Ontario to ban any new oil and gas drilling in or beneath the Great Lakes

The bill sponsors are state Representatives Dan Scripps, Sarah Roberts, Mary Valentine, Rebekah Warren and Judy Nerat. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to put the proposed constitutional ban on the November ballot. Michigan has had legislative bans on drilling in place since 2000, but interests aligned with the oil industry continue to push for drilling under the lakes.

Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of coastline and Michigan’s Great Lakes represents among the largest bodies of freshwater in the world. An oil catastrophe like the BP disaster in the Gulf, which began after an explosion on April 20 that also killed 11 people, would destroy key Michigan industries. These key industries include tourism, which employs nearly 200,000 people in Michigan. Michigan’s boating industry is also a vital engine of the economy, generating $9 billion, as is fishing, which generates $7 billion, while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs between them.

“Michigan’s Great Lakes affect every community and industry in our state, from tourism and boating to agriculture and manufacturing,” Roper said. “Drilling in the Great Lakes is a risk Michigan cannot afford to take and that’s why we must slam the door on Big Oil and their drills once and for all.”

Clean Water Action, with 250,000 Michigan members, is mounting a statewide, door-to-door campaign in support of a permanent Great Lakes drilling ban and to public pressure on lawmakers to place the proposal on the November ballot.


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