Directional Drilling Ban Passes Despite Englers NonSupport

April 12, 2002
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LANSING — A state law banning new directional drilling operations for gas and oil beneath the Great Lakes in Michigan took effect this month, albeit without Gov. John Engler’s blessing.

The governor allowed the law to go into effect April 5 without his signature, permanently banning the state from issuing new permits to drill beneath the lakes from shore. While he opposed the measure, which passed both the state House and Senate by wide margins, Engler declined to veto the bill because he did not want it to become an issue in this year’s gubernatorial election.

“No candidate for governor should be able to run for office claming that they will sign this measure and be given credit by the public for having an environmental policy for Michigan’s future. Let the debates begin, but not over this nonissue,” Engler wrote in a letter to legislators explaining his position.

The governor called the ban on directional drilling flawed policy. He said it was the result of a misinformation campaign by special-interest groups and provides no additional protections for the Great Lakes. He sides with backers of directional drilling that say it has been proven safe and is scientifically sound.

“I know that supporters of this legislation claim that this is a victory for the Great Lakes. If it is, it is a hollow one, for this governor does not consider it a victory for Michigan when sound science and well reasoned public policy are set aside,” Engler wrote to lawmakers.           

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