The Great Lakes are safe from oil drilling – at least for the time being. Make no mistake, there is oil under the Great Lakes, says Peter Taglia, a geologist who’s staff scientist with the environmental group Clean Wisconsin. “On the eastern side of Lake Michigan the Devonian reef system extends from the Michigan basin in an arc southwest to the center of the lake,” explains Taglia. Taglia says that’s basically the exact same geologic formation that produce oil elsewhere around the world.
U.S. waters have been off limits to drilling since 2002, when President George W. Bush signed a ban. and most Great Lakes states also ban new drilling. But Taglia notes there is “slant drilling” for natural gas in Canada. He says it may be time for an international ban. “If one entity decides to regulate it differently and allows greater risk, they are then deciding to have other jurisdictions assume some of that risk,” Taglia says. Most Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin, also ban new drilling. Taglia says while Lake Michigan is nowhere near as deep as the Gulf, there are other factors such as severe weather, that could lead to accidents.