Great Lakes Drilling Ban Headed to House, and Hopefully the November Ballot

NASA oil sheen Deepwater Gulf

The disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has delivered a loud wake-up call regarding our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, and Michigan lawmakers are answering that call. Last week, a measure to permanently ban drilling in the Great Lakes passed unanimously out of the House Great Lakes and Environment committee, and is headed to the floor of the House for a vote.

The measure, proposed by State Rep. Dan Scripps (D-Leland), would create a constitutional amendment permanently banning oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. If the proposal passes both the House and the Senate by at least a two-thirds majority, it will appear on the ballot in November for voter approval.  The committee also passed a measure urging other Great Lakes States and Canada to adopt drilling bans.

Federal and state law currently prohibits drilling in the Great Lakes, but lawmakers fear the law could be easily overturned by a Legislature more concerned with creating a few jobs than protecting our natural resources. This is not a risk Scripps and his fellow Dems are willing to take, given the impact an oil spill would have on the economy and ecology of the Great Lakes basin. When superimposed over the Great Lakes, the current oil spill in the Gulf completely consumes Lake Superior.

The House is likely to vote on the measure in the coming weeks. House Speaker Andy Dillon has voiced his support for the ban, and promised to move this important legislation.

--- Image of Deepwater spill, via NASA.