U.S. Water News Online
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Since a two-year ban on oil and gas
drilling in Lake
Ponchartrain expired last fall, "wildcat" drillers are lining up for
continued development of petroleum reserves that might lie beneath the lake's
waters. One oil man has gone so far as to offer sharing some of his profits
with the poor.
Jack Traver told a special task force of the Louisiana Mineral
Board that if
Lake Ponchartrain is reopened to drilling, he could find $6 billion in oil
and natural gas and that Traver Oil Co. would donate some of that money to
New Orleans welfare recipients. The nine-member task force has been studying
whether the moratorium on oil and gas exploration beneath the lake should be
In view of improvements that have been made in the water quality
Ponchartrain, members of a lake foundation are worried that a drilling rush
will occur if the ban is lifted. If the drilling moratorium continues, said
Carlton Dufrechou, the foundation's executive director, the lake could be
used for swimming by the end of the decade. The lake has suffered from oil
spills in the past, noted Dufrechou, most notably four instances during 1992.
According to Dufrechou, Traver Oil was responsible for three of
including one that spewed 420 gallons of oil into the lake.
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