Monday, June 21, 2010

Put Great Lakes Drilling Ban In Wisconsin Constitution

Now there's a ballot initiative campaign I'd get behind.

Michigan lawmakers, given what has happened and is continuing in the Gulf of Mexico, are pushing the idea in their state even though there is a federal law in place that bars Great Lakes oil drilling.

A law that someday might be weakened or abolished.

The move would also be a way for citizens to voice their outrage at the disregard for water and wildlife that led the same federal government to permit BP to drill and operate the doomed Deepwater Horizon in the first place.

Imagine a spill in the largest supply of surface freshwater on the planet?

Wisconsin's constitution already recreates the Northwest Ordinance of 1787's definition of the state's waters as a public trust, so adding a drilling prohibition in the Great Lakes that are in trust for the people of Wisconsin would be a simple and logical move.

Not an advisory referendum, mind you: a constitutional amendment.

What do you folks think?


Melissa Scanlan said...

Protecting the Great Lakes against oil drilling would be an excellent articulation of the long-standing Public Trust Doctrine. The United States Supreme Court in Illinois Central Railroad v. Illinois first observed, as a matter of trust obligation, that “the general control of the State over lands under the navigable waters of an entire harbor or bay, or of a sea or lake” cannot be abdicated, and “cannot be relinquished by a transfer of the property.” This case involved Lake Michigan’s lakebed at Chicago and established that the State of Illinois could not abandon its trust responsibilities by granting the lakebed to a railroad. If not even a railroad, then certainly not oil drilling that has the potential to devastate the largest supply of fresh surface water in the U.S.

John Kaufman said...

Sure, James. Good idea. Let's do it.

Regards, John

John Kaufman said...

And let's include natural gas drilling, too.


Anonymous said...

Yes and lets ban Asian Carp too. THink you can pull this off? Lets first return the legislature to PT status it seems they have too much time to consider rediculous stupidity. Such as this. Its a Federal law bonehead, don't need a state one.

xoff said...

There is no federal law against drilling in the Great Lakes, Anonymous, but I won't call you a bonehead anyway.

Anonymous said...

Not so. Section 386 of the The Energy Policy Act of 2005 banned the federal or state governments from issuing any permits or leases for drilling in or under the Great Lakes. There is a federal law against drilling, but it could be easily reversed by a future legislative action.