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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2003

DeWine maintains opposition to drilling


U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) has reaffirmed his opposition to drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, much to the joy of Great Lakes-area environmentalists.

Mr. DeWine was one of eight Republicans who in April crossed party lines and voted against drilling there. The pro-drilling lobby fell 14 votes short of the 60 it needed to end a Democratic-led filibuster. Word spread recently that Senate Republicans planned to bring up the issue again by attaching it to a budget reconciliation bill this spring, thereby avoiding a filibuster.

So on Jan. 30, Mr. DeWine and five other GOP senators sent a letter to Senate Major Leader Bill Frist, encouraging him to “resist efforts.”

Activists watch Alaska refuge votes closely, in part because they fear a precedent could be set for other environmentally-sensitive regions - including the world's largest source of fresh surface water.

Glen Brand, Midwest representative of the Sierra Club, said the group lauds Mr. DeWine for continuing to “stand strong” on the issue.

Ohio's other senator, George Voinovich, voted in favor of Alaska refuge drilling in April but repeatedly has stated his opposition to Great Lakes drilling. Last month, he and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) co-sponsored an amendment that would extend a federal ban on more Great Lakes drilling through Sept. 30, 2005. Canada allows drilling on its side of the lakes. Michigan has seven previously drilled onshore wells in operation that capture natural gas and oil from beneath the lakes.

Gov. Bob Taft recently announced his intent to sign an executive order that would ban drilling in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie.

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