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Environmental groups ask Biden to withdraw Trump review of oil drilling option in Lake Huron


Environmental groups are asking the Biden administration to close a review to cut the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron by 90%.

President Barack Obama approved expanding the protected area of Lake Huron which includes several shipwrecks. It’s popular with divers and also tourists who visit the headquarters in Alpena.

Former President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department ordered a review to determine whether to eliminate a nearly 4,000 square mile area of the sanctuary.

“President Trump came in and his Department of Commerce issued a review and they said, ‘We want to cut the size of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary,’ the nation’s only freshwater sanctuary, by 90% and open it up to oil and gas drilling,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC).

Federal and state laws prohibit drilling for oil or gas on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. Canada does have natural gas wells on its side of Lake Ontario.

Then Governor Rick Snyder opposed eliminating the protections and was joined by several members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation. The review was shelved.

“But, it shouldn’t stay there. It’s time for this misguided proposal to cut the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary boundaries by 90%, take that misguided proposal and bring it to its well-deserved end,” said Learner.

The ELPC and 16 other groups have written a letter to the current Department of Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, asking that the review be completely withdrawn.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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