Ohio GOP want to drill for oil in Lake Erie

Those who don’t remember the past….

Cuyahoga River Fire Nov. 3, 1952

“On June 22, 1969, an oil slick and debris in the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland, Ohio,” explains Ohio History Central.  There were nine fires on the river before then.  “The 1952 fire [see photo] caused over 1.5 million dollars in damage.”

As one Ohio environmental reporter has written:

The current environmental movement began in response to a previous oil disasters in 1969, one resulting in the Cuyahoga River fire. During this period, Lake Erie was considered dead. Lake Erie has come a long way, but we must be viligiant about its health. The resources in Lake Erie are held in trust for Ohioans, and we must ensure that disasters such as the Gulf Coast do not happen here.

CAP’s Kiley Kroh has the story of the Ohio Republicans with a short memory:

The next target for the GOP’s “drill everywhere now” craze could very well be the Great Lakes. Earlier this month, both the U.S. House and Senate took up sweeping measures that would disregard lessons learned in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and open up enormous areas of the country to offshore drilling. Following suit, the Ohio state legislature is voting this week on a bill that would make state-owned lands available to the highest-bidding oil and gas companies “” an area that includes Lake Erie.

In its original form, House Bill 133 included a provision stating the Ohio Department of Natural Resources may issue permits and leases for removal of stone, sand, and other minerals “other than oil or gas” from the lake bed. That key exemption was clandestinely removed last week.

As several studies have concluded, the risks of oil and gas exploration in Lake Erie far outweigh the benefits – but that hasn’t stopped the oil companies from circling for several years. There’s currently a federal ban in place that prohibits offshore drilling in the Great Lakes, but Congressional Republicans are hell-bent on opening up anything they can to be drilled. State Rep. Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) sees the “oil above all” agenda at work in Ohio:  “We still have the federal law for the time being that forbids drilling on or under Lake Erie, but that could be removed at some point “¦ I suspect it is a more ideological statement of drill here, drill now, drill everywhere.”

Murray said he will seek to reinsert the language protecting Lake Erie when the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee takes up amendments today. he bill could reach a full House vote as early as Wednesday.

As the Toledo Blade reported, State Rep. David Hall (R-Killbuck), chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, “said he’s willing to entertain a discussion about putting the lake language back into the bill on Tuesday, but he doesn’t believe that it’s necessary given the federal ban.”

The federal government has already issued more than 70 new deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico since the moratorium was lifted last October. The U.S. House of Representatives and 42 Senate Republicans voted to open vast swaths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic to drilling, without acting on a single piece of legislation to shore up safety requirements after the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. We have to think it’s only a matter of time before the GOP catches wind that there might be oil beneath the Great Lakes, too, and clearly nothing is off limits for the Grand Oil Party.

15 Responses to Ohio GOP want to drill for oil in Lake Erie

  1. Undergrad says:

    I lived in Erie, PA my whole childhood and through high school. I can remember almost laughing when it was officially considered “safe” to once again swim in the water (this was recently). I’ve been reading climate blogs for a while now, but something that hits this close to home really changes one’s attitude towards direct action.

    It seems to me that continued compliance with the American process is not only not in my interest but is in fact one of my worst alternatives.

  2. sault says:

    Are there even enough drilling rigs on this continent to satisfy the demand this and other GOP bills would create for them? I remember a few years ago hearing about a shortage of rigs and the skyrocketing prices that drilling companies were paying to lease them. Maybe this is why the drilling companies are sitting on millions of acres of leases that they are not even exploring yet. However, they still want more areas opened up to drilling. This is just another sign that the people pulling the strings of the Republicans know exactly what they’re doing: the drilling canard is just a political ploy to blame high gas prices / unemployment / the bad economy on the Democrats.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    These guys would drill under Chartres Cathedral or the manger at Bethlehem if they could get away with it. About the only place they wouldn’t drill is the Masters golf course in Augusta.

    The timber companies are on the same wavelength. They clearcut in Yosemite during World War II, claiming a national emergency. In the 1970’s, when we finally set aside a few redwood forest preserves- after cutting down 95% of them- angry loggers went into them and cut down some of the biggest trees, as a matter of principle.

    You can’t negotiate with the “drill anywhere, drill now” kind of people. EIR’s and blowout dangers don’t faze them at all. They can only be confronted and defeated.

  4. Dickensian American says:

    After 100+ years, it’s still the same line:

    “I. Drink. Your. Milkshake.”

  5. MarkF says:

    just good corporate planning. got to cut through those burdensome regulations. they’re un-American.


    completely unsurprising, straightforward, deep rooted, all encompassing greed.

    a picture in my mind is a generic oil company executive, looking like Jabba the Hut. that’s who they remind me of.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    In 1909, the USA and Canada established the Boundary Waters Treaty regarding the Great Lakes’ water quality. Treaties are the “supreme law of the land,” higher than other federal and state laws, so says the US Constitution in Article Six, which was read aloud by Congress at the beginning of this session of Congress. Let’s hope the authors of House Bill 133 remember that they swore to uphold the Constitution. It’s expensive to have to make a constitutional challenge in the courts.

  7. See how the environmentalists are counterproductive? If the lake hadn’t been cleaned up, they could have just skimmed the oil instead of having to drill for it.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    At its core, in its very essence, capitalism is a death-cult and a process of destruction. Whether the little metastases of capitalism, the capitalists, consciously are seeking to destroy every remaining unsullied biosphere, or merely do it in response to unconscious impulses, peer pressure and social habit, is for future generations of moral philosophers, probably of alien civilizations, to contemplate. I doubt that there will be any high civilization of Homo hubris left in 100 years, but you never know your luck. However we do know that capitalism is irredeemable, rejects the notion of sufficiency, is only ever interested in ‘More’ and promotes the very worst type of human being and has no use for the better types. No-one ever attributes a meaningful purpose to the actions of the cancer cell nor to its processes, as it inexorably spreads and consumes its host, from which it sprang. I suggest we treat capitalism and capitalists in the same manner, as an incredibly dangerous and destructive natural process that must be cured by excision when the immensely more preferable response of prevention ie protection, has failed. And we’d better hurry, because the capitalist cancer has reduced the planet’s life-support systems to that cachectic state that signifies that death is near.

  9. Scrooge says:

    Ah the good old days. Lakes on fire. Toxic dumps. Dumping used oil down storm drains. Streets lined with empty beer bottles and McDonalds bags. The GOP is just to nostalgic.

  10. Dan MB says:

    I was born within sight of the upper reaches of the Cuyahoga and lived through the era of fires on the river and appalling pollution upstream. The city of Cuyahoga Falls, across the river from Akron, had what was then a rarity, a Mega-Church, the aptly named Cathedral of Tomorrow. No one ever went to see the falls which lent their name to the town. A feature on pollution at the time showed brown foam stuck in the tree tops above the falls.

    A story that illustrates the mindset of our current wealthy (Romney, the raider) and of a majority of Ohio residents concerns an early raider, Charles Lamb. He bought controlling interest of the rubber company my father worked for, resulting in my father leaving a great job. Charles Lamb’s wife got a seat on the Ohio Sesquicentennial Celebration Commission. She wanted an event that everyone in the state could “enjoy” at once. Her proposal: detonate an A-bomb over Lake Erie.

    The theories that the captains of commerce are greedy or corrupt don’t quite add up but they’re not really that bright, immersed in a culture that promotes a mindset of superiority, disconnected from the average citizen, and afraid of each others’ cutthroat competitive natures. Among these elites are a few who achieved great wealth because they treated their employees with great dignity and affection. And there are those who have a rational perspective on science and a belief that a high tide lifts all boats. (quite the bizarre analogy to use on this site… oh well)

    Unfortunately the vast majority of the super wealthy are borderline illiterate on science and true-believers in a first-grade picture book version of The Wealth of Nations, one that omits the necessity of a moral foundation that honors the greater good of humanity. Their view is that the accumulation of vast wealth, that can best be managed by their superior wisdom, is the greatest good. We can find its roots in monarchies and dictatorships.

    In today’s world we are at a decision point. Will an increasingly out of touch elite prevent the vast changes that could propel us into a clean energy economy, or will a vast network of people produce a compelling vision and the organization to take the steps to realize that vision?

  11. Mossy says:

    The Buckeye State is just trying to live up to its “Dirtiest State in the Union” award.

  12. adelady says:

    Mark F “Jabba the Hut”?

    The image that comes to my mind is from many years ago. In an item about the dangers of pearl diving, the reporter casually inserted the information that aristocratic ladies used to use real pearls crushed into dust as makeup.

    People die to defend their families or their nation and that is often admirable as well as understandable. To die for the sake of vanity – and the vulgar display of wealth – is beyond the pale, and beyond my comprehension.

    The callous disregard involved is a lot worse than the familiar “Let them eat cake.”