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Published: Friday, 3/30/2001

Bill seeks ban on drilling in Lake Erie


COLUMBUS - A Toledo area lawmaker yesterday introduced a bill to ban drilling for oil and natural gas in Lake Erie.

“The Lake Erie economy generates millions of jobs and nearly $1 billion annually for Ohio,” said state Rep. Chris Redfern (D., Catawba Island). “This bill, if enacted, will protect Ohio's greatest natural resource from exploitation pollution.”

Mr. Redfern said his bill is in response to legislation sponsored by state Rep. Kirk Schuring (R., Canton) to create a legislative committee to study if the state can take any steps to reduce natural gas prices.

Mr. Schuring's bill, which is pending in the House Public Utilities Committee, would require a legislative committee to examine “incentives to induce more gas exploration in Ohio.”

Mr. Redfern said he intends to try to amend Mr. Schuring's bill to prohibit the legislative committee from considering Lake Erie as a source of natural gas.

Sam Speck, director of the state Department of Natural Resources, said the Taft administration is “concerned” about drilling for oil underneath Lake Erie. He said the governor has not taken a position on natural gas exploration.

“We can develop an energy policy, but we don't have to look at Lake Erie as part of that policy,” Mr. Redfern said.

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