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Letter to Lana Pollack, Chair of the U.S. Section International Joint Commission and Joseph Comuzzi, Chair of the Canadian Section

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is urging members of the joint U.S.-Canadian commission that oversees the Great Lakes to support banning Canadian oil and gas drilling operations in the Great Lakes. In a letter to the International Joint Commission (IJC), Feingold and 15 other lawmakers urged the IJC to consider the ban at the IJC's Semi-Annual Meeting in Ottawa on October 19-22, 2010. Currently, Canada has hundreds of active wells in Lake Erie and allows drilling for oil and natural gas under the Great Lakes from onshore wells, and drilling for natural gas in the Great Lakes from offshore wells. While new U.S.-based oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes is banned, seven grand-fathered oil and gas operations continue in Michigan, tapping into Lakes Michigan and Huron from their shores.

"While the U.S. has banned new oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, Canada has yet to follow suit," Feingold said. "Banning U.S.-based drilling is only half the battle. With the Great Lakes providing drinking water to millions and acting as an economic engine for the Midwest, I hope Canada seriously considers our request to end its current oil and gas drilling."

Feingold has a long record of protecting the Great Lakes from numerous threats like oil drilling, invasive species and pollution, to name a few. Last week, Feingold sent letters to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Environment Canada calling into question a proposal to ship radioactive nuclear waste from Canada to Sweden via the Great Lakes. Feingold has also been a leading Senate opponent of drilling in the Great Lakes, cosponsoring the Great Lakes Water Protection Act and the successful 2001 amendment that put in place the first federal ban on oil or gas drilling in any of the Great Lakes. Feingold also has a long record of fighting to end the cozy relationship between the federal government and big oil companies.

October 6, 2010

Lana Pollack
Chair of the U.S. Section
IJC
2000 L Street, NW
Suite #615
Washington, DC 20440

Joseph Comuzzi
Chair of the Canadian Section
IJC
234 Laurier Avenue West 22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K6

Dear Chairwoman Lana Pollack and Chairman Joseph Comuzzi,

As you prepare for your IJC Fall Semi-Annual Meeting in Ottawa on October 19-22, we respectfully request that as you debate and discuss the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, you strongly consider adding to the agenda the issue of a Canadian ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes.

Over the past several months, we have led efforts, joined by our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, to express our bipartisan concerns over policies governing oil and gas extraction on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. These letters are enclosed for your review. We are heartened by a subsequent letter sent to the State Department and the Minister of Foreign Affairs by IJC Chairman Comuzzi and Chairwoman Pollack, which cited the House letter and encouraged that "essential failsafe systems are developed to further protect the Great Lakes from any future spills that could otherwise be caused by the transport of or drilling for oil and gas and other hazardous polluting substances in these environmentally critical areas."

The Great Lakes make up 20% of our fresh water and are home to a fishing and boating industry worth $7 billion annually. The Lakes are a priceless treasure for the millions of people who live in the region. We cannot allow a disaster like the one that happened in the Gulf of Mexico to happen in any of our Great Lakes.

Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the United States, Canada and the Great Lakes. Please contact Lindsey Matese in the office of Congressman Quigley, or Chris Adamo in the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow, to follow up on this very important issue (Lindsey.Matese@mail.house.gov or Ph. 202-225-4061, Chris_Adamo@Stabenow.senate.gov or Ph. 202-224-8807).

Sincerely,

Senator Russ Feingold
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator George Voinovich
Representative Melissa Bean
Representative John Conyers
Representative Dale Kildee
Representative Sandy Levin
Representative Betty McCollum
Representative Mark Quigley
Representative Tim Ryan
Representative Mark Schauer
Representative Joe Sestak
Representative Bart Stupak


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