U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) continued his commitment to protecting the Great Lakes with an amendment to H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act, that reaffirms the permanent ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes.
"This week's oil spill near Marshall, Michigan serves as a terrible reminder that oil spills are not limited to the Gulf of Mexico," Stupak said. "It also reaffirms the importance of the permanent ban on drilling for oil and natural gas in the Great Lakes. My amendment makes clear that when it comes to oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes region, all activities must comply with the will of the people in the Great Lakes region and federal law, which prohibits oil and gas drilling in our Great Lakes."
In 2001, Congress adopted a temporary ban on oil and gas drilling in and under the Great Lakes. Congressman Stupak led the effort in 2005 to successfully make this ban permanent. Stupak's amendment to H.R. 3534, included in the manager's amendment of the CLEAR Act, is the latest effort to re-inforce this federal ban.
The CLEAR Act would create a Great Lakes Regional Coordination Council to assess the water body's economic resources, including renewable and non-renewable energy sources, and present a strategic plan on utilizing those resources. Stupak's amendment ensures that this assessment and plan remain consistent with the ban on drilling in the Great Lakes by excluding non-renewable energy sources under the Great Lakes from consideration.
"More than 33 million Americans rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, fishing, recreation, agriculture, industry and shipping," Stupak said. "This must be weighed against the fact that in the entire 25 years that directional drilling was permitted, the Great Lakes wells produced only enough natural gas to fuel the United States for nine hours and only enough crude oil to fuel the United States for a mere 35 minutes. There can be no debate that the risks of drilling in the Great Lakes far outweigh the minimal rewards."
In response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the CLEAR Act imposes new drilling safety standards, reforms the federal agency responsible for issuing oil and gas leases and regulating the companies that drill on our federal lands, increases liability limits for oil companies responsible for spills and strengthens federal oil spill response programs. Stupak also worked with his colleagues to ensure that the bill contains a provision to prevent bad actors, or egregious violators of federal environmental and safety laws, from obtaining new leases to drill in federal waters or on federal lands.
The CLEAR Act now awaits consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Stupak serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Water Caucus, which works to promote a dialogue about water issues and provide timely, scientific information about water resources and water use, and also serves as co-chairman of the Democratic Working Group on water issues. In addition to the federal ban on drilling in and under the Great Lakes, Stupak has written and supported legislation to reverse damage caused by invasive species, including Asian carp, prevent partially treated human waste from being dumped into the Great Lakes and stop the proposed diversion of Great Lakes water to China.
Michigan's First Congressional District has 1,613 miles of shoreline, more than any other congressional district in the continental United States. It is also the only congressional district in the nation to border three of the five Great Lakes.