‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ in the Great Lakes?
One of the annual Great Lakes political rites of late spring is the leadership policy conference on scenic Mackinac Island, the car-less Great Lakes getaway, at which Mackinac’s Grand Hotel, with the longest front porch in the world, is weighed down by 1500 of Detroit and Michigan’s leading business, media, and political figures, along with the odd early presidential aspirant.
This being an election year, the manure being spread by seven Republican and Democratic Michigan gubernatorial hopefuls, along with visiting keynoter and maybe presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, rivaled the piles left by Mackinac’s famous horse-drawn taxis.
An unprecedented (and unlikely to be repeated) bi-partisan gubernatorial debate hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce saw seven Michigan candidates to replace term-limited (and sand-blasted by Michigan’s auto and economic collapse) Governor Jennifer Granholm deal with a host of hot-button topics.
None was more interesting, given the BP moment, than the question posed by moderator Tim Skupick: “If the Canadians were to start drilling for oil in the Great Lakes, would you try to stop it, and if so, how?”
The question was not a wild hypothetical. Canadian provinces have been considering exploiting more of the significant gas and oil deposits under the Great Lakes. Drilling has been done on land for years. Drilling in the Lakes has been episodically proposed by various states, and most recently, Canadian provinces. Michigan’s legislature was moved in 2002 to ban Great Lakes drilling, and pushed a federal law in 2005, as proposals for “slant drilling”--getting at oil and gas under Michigan proper--from “out at sea” in the Great Lakes were seriously being pursued.
Michigan straddles almost 4,000 of the 10,000 miles of Great Lakes frontage; but eight other states and two Canadian provinces—including leading metros like Chicago, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Toronto to smaller Duluth, Green Bay, and Traverse City--share the same waterfront real estate.