FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Wozniak, (734) 327-7154
Michigan Citizens Agree: Oil and Water Don't
August 28, 2001 - Results released today from a statewide
poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters Education
Fund paint a clear picture of how Michigan residents feel about
drilling for oil under our Great Lakes.
"Michiganders simply don't want to see more drilling, more
development along the coastline or anything that poses increased
risks for the Great Lakes," said Lisa Wozniak, LCVEF Great
Lakes Regional Director. "With such a tiny amount of oil and
gas and such a unique and critical resource to protect, the public
just doesn't buy into more drilling under the Great Lakes."
Others point to the importance of the lakes in our lives as reason
for this strong public ethic against increased drilling under the
Great Lakes. "Michigan's culture and economy is built on these
lakes," said Tanya Cabala of the Lake Michigan Federation.
"There is just no excuse for endangering our fabulous Lake
Michigan coastline with more oil derricks and industrial development.
The value of our pristine lakeshore simply dwarfs the value of the
miniscule amount of oil that might be sucked out from underneath
Great Lakes drilling is currently under review at the state Department
of Natural Resources and despite broad public opposition, Governor
Engler has proposed moving forward with granting new drilling permits
for wells under the Great Lakes. "The Governor is arguing that
new drilling permits won't endanger the Great Lakes. However, local
governments and community groups understand that just one oil leak
or release of hydrogen sulfide gas could send residents or tourists
to the hospital, damaging fragile coastal resources and jeopardize
local economies," said James Clift, Policy Director of the
Michigan Environmental Council.
"The poll released today shows that Michigan voters are deeply
concerned about Great Lakes drilling and they are willing to back
that concern up with their vote," said Lisa Wozniak, LCVEF
Great Lakes regional director. "In fact, we already see candidates
lining up and positioning themselves on this issue for next fall
- clean air, clean water and respect for the outdoors are fundamental
Michigan values and these results just underscore the importance
of these values."
The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness
about environmental issues, increasing the capacity and effectiveness
of state and local environmental groups, and encouraging citizens
to participate in the democratic process. For more information,
"Oil and Water Don't Mix" continued:
Statewide poll results
1. Voters rank clean air and water as one of the most important
issues facing the state, second only to education. On a scale ranging
from 0 to 10, fully 40 percent of Michigan voters rate their level
of concern about clean air and water as a "10."
2. The results of our recent statewide survey show that Michigan
voters are strongly opposed to oil drilling under the Great Lakes.
As a general principle, voters oppose drilling for oil and gas underneath
the Great Lakes, and they offer clear support for continuing the
state moratorium that prevents any new directional drilling from
taking place. In addition, when offered arguments on both side of
the issue, a clear majority of Michigan voters favor a complete
ban on drilling for oil and gas underneath the Great Lakes.
3. As an introductory question, survey respondents were asked whether
they would "be in favor of or opposed to increased drilling
for oil and gas under the Great Lakes." Sixty-one percent of
Michigan voters oppose oil and gas drilling under the Great Lakes;
opponents of drilling outnumber supporters by more than a two-to-one
margin. In addition, much of the opposition to drilling is strongly
felt; fully 43 percent of those polled say that they "strongly
oppose" oil drilling under the Great Lakes.
4. Opposition to drilling cuts across demographic and geographic
subgroups within the electorate. For example, drilling under the
Great Lakes is opposed by:
- 63 percent of women and 58 percent of men;
- 70 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of independents, and a 49-percent
plurality of Republicans;
- 62 percent of college-educated voters, and 61 percent of non-college
- 61 percent of whites and 62 percent of African-Americans;
- 63 percent of voters under 50 and 59 percent of those age 50
and over; and
- A majority of voters in every media market in the state.
5. Survey respondents were also told that there is a moratorium
on new directional drilling under the Lakes, and were asked whether
they would favor or oppose a continuation of that moratorium. A
clear 54-percent majority of those polled favor continuing the moratorium,
with more than one-third of those polled (37 percent) strongly favoring
6. Survey respondents were also offered arguments from both supporters
and opponents of a complete ban on oil drilling under the Great
Lakes, as shown below:
(SOME PEOPLE/ OTHER PEOPLE) say we should continue to allow directional
drilling for oil and gas underneath the Great Lakes. With sky high
gas prices and our country facing an energy crunch, we need all
the oil and gas we can get. Directional drilling has been permitted
in Michigan for 22 years without one major incident causing harm
to the Great Lakes or Michigan's natural resources. With the proper
environmental and safety guidelines, directional drilling should
be allowed to continue.
(OTHER PEOPLE/ SOME PEOPLE) say we should ban drilling for oil
and gas underneath the Great Lakes because of the potential harm
it could cause to coastal lands and water quality. We rely on the
Great Lakes for our drinking water, our economy, tourism, and recreation.
It is not worth risking this valuable resource for very little oil
and gas that will practically no impact on gas prices and may never
help Michigan consumers.
After hearing these two arguments, in rotating order, respondents
were asked which one they agreed with more. A 57-percent majority
of those polled agreed with the call to ban all drilling under the
Great Lakes. Again, the sentiment in favor of a ban was strongly
felt, with a full two-thirds of those who support a ban on drilling
saying that they support it strongly.