OPIRG Tries to Save Lake Erie

To the Editors:

If you happened to be in Wilder Bowl last Friday, you may have noticed a table where students were trying to get people to make phone calls to State Senator Jeffrey Armbruster. This is just the latest of recent efforts put forth by Ohio PIRG’s Lake Erie protection campaign.
For those who do not know why Lake Erie needs protecting, here’s a brief recap of events. The oil and gas industries approached the federal government to get permission to drill in the Great Lakes for miniscule fuel resources (about eight days worth of energy a year at peak production, which won’t be reached for at least ten years). The federal government denied the request, but the companies were still allowed to petition individual states to get access rights.
Currently, Canada has allowed drilling on their side of the lake, but have experienced an average of one accident a month. Michigan has also allowed drilling, but after several accidents (which have caused several injuries and even resulted in one person’s death) has recently been repealed. If drilling was allowed, it would adversely affect the $1.5 billion tourist industry and the drinking water of 3 million Ohio residents. Also, while Lake Erie is on the recovery from its once “dead” state, the ecosystem is still fragile and probably would not be able to sustain itself if drilling were to occur.
Currently, a bill has been has been drafted in the senate that would ban oil and gas drilling in Lake Erie (SB 96). Despite Governor Bob Taft’s support for a ban, Senate President Richard Finan is against the bill and will not bring it up for a vote. PIRG’s mission this semester, among other things, has been to pressure Senator Armbruster into convincing Senator Finan to allow this bill to be voted on. Besides call-in action days, PIRG has been visiting communities all over Lorain county collecting postcards to give to Armbruster showing support for this issue. PIRG has also enlisted the help of several coalition partners who would be adversely affected by drilling in the lake.
However, it is student involvement that Oberlin’s PIRG chapter really depends on. If you would like to help prevent a second “Mistake by the Lake”, we urge you to call Senator Armbruster’s office at (614) 644-7613 or you can send him an e-mail through the PIRG website at http://www.ohiopirg.org.

–Mike McComb
College first-year
Ohio PIRG — Lake Erie Campaign

April 19
April 26

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