Lessons from the Gulf Disaster

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragedy that continues to unfold. It is leading to an important national discussion on America’s energy policy which continues to rely on fossil fuels—and the risks in continuing to do so. The Great Lakes are no stranger to oil and gas exploration. While there is a moratorium currently on any new exploration on the U.S. side of the border, both the United States and Canada have active wells. And Canada has no such moratorium—prompting U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to go on the offensive, asking the Obama Administration to negotiate an end to drilling with Canada.

The easing of regulations and lack of oversight on everything from Wall Street to mining has backfired and Sen. Stabenow told the Toledo Blade that the Gulf of Mexico is the latest casualty.

“It is really a call to action not only to us to get off foreign oil, but also oil as a form of energy,” she said. A similar event in the Great Lakes, a system that holds 90 percent of this nation’s surface fresh water and nearly 20 percent of the world’s supply, would be catastrophic.

There are nearly 500 natural gas wells on the Canadian side of Lake Erie in the Province of Ontario. Since the turn of the last century, Canada has drilled about 2,500 wells beneath the lake. The United States halted drilling in the Great Lakes in 2005. And although Michigan has a similar state ban against drilling there are a handful of shoreline wells in the state of which Sen. Stabenow recommends allowing the leases to run out.

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