Great Lakes Moratorium On Oil Drilling Could Be Lifted
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a study on the environmental effects of gas and oil drilling in the Great Lakes. The information will be used by Congress to determine if the current drilling moratorium in the Great Lakes should be extended or not.
Congress required the study in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2002. The same law established a moratorium on all federal and state permits and leases for gas and oil drilling in, or under the Great Lakes.
That moratorium was extended through Fiscal Year 2005 in the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2003.
The geologic formations under Eastern and Middle Lake Erie and those under Lakes Michigan and Huron have some gas and oil production potential that has been mined, the Corps says.
Some 2,200 vertical wells have been constructed in Lake Erie since 1913, all in Canada. Thirteen slant drilling wells have been constructed underneath Lake Michigan since 1979, all in Michigan.
There does not appear to be any oil or gas production potential under Southern Lake Michigan or under Lake Ontario in New York.
Vertical drilling involves the construction of a drilling platform in the open lake, with a well drilling straight down. Slant drilling, also known as horizontal drilling, involves the drilling of a well at an onshore location, typically within 1,000 feet of the lake, straight down and then angled into a deep layer under the lake–down to 4,000 feet deep in the case of Lake Michigan.
Several environmental groups have expressed concern about the slant drilling wells and about pipelines proposed for transporting natural gas proposed to cross Lake Erie, affecting New York and Pennsylvania, and Lake Michigan, affecting Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The Corps will lead the environmental study in collaboration with other federal agencies. A panel of experts from government, academia and the private sector will be convened to review existing information and previous studies from the Great Lakes and elsewhere.
The panel will prepare a report that characterizes the environmental effects of gas and oil drilling on the Great Lakes, including the effects on the shorelines and water of the Great Lakes.
The study will be informational in nature and will not make any specific recommendations. It is not intended to serve as an environmental impact statement for any particular federal action, so public review and comment is not included in the study.S
Provided by the Environmental News Service.