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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

Lake Erie drilling ban backed by 2 Ohio officials

The directors of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources yesterday recommended that Gov. Bob Taft consider banning oil and natural gas drilling in state waters of Lake Erie.

ODNR Director Sam Speck and OEPA Director Chris Jones said they believe the Taft administration is firmly on record against drilling in state waters. The Blade reported on Monday that Governor Taft is considering an executive order banning drilling.

House Democratic Leader Chris Redfern of Catawba Island sent a letter to Governor Taft after reading the story, saying he was encouraged the governor might act.

Mr. Redfern introduced legislation last year that would have permanently banned such drilling, but the measure died in committee.

If the governor issues such an order, Ohio would become the second Great Lakes state with such a ban. Michigan has a ban prohibiting expansion of drilling in its waters on Lake Erie beyond seven existing wells, six of which are natural gas.

The recommendation by the two department heads was made in anticipation of today's expected release of a report by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group questioning state government's commitment to the lake's preservation.

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