Illinois groups call on Springfield for state moratorium on fracking

By Environment Illinois

Illinois citizens from all parts of the state who are concerned about the impact that fracking would have on health and water converged on Springfield, Ill., March 12, urging legislators to pass a moratorium on fracking.

New York’s Assembly just voted to roll over its 4 1/2-year moratorium on fracking,” said Liz Patula, member of S.A.F.E. (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment). “Don’t the citizens of Illinois deserve the same protection?”

In states where fracking is occurring, the dirty drilling operations have contaminated drinking water sources with toxic fluids, made nearby residents sick with air pollution, and transformed rural landscapes into industrial zones, all while releasing significant global warming pollution.

From Colorado to Pennsylvania, we know that fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster — contaminating drinking water, making residents sick, and turning rural landscapes into industrial zones,” said Bruce Ratain, state policy associate with Environment Illinois. “That’s why Environment Illinois has supported a moratorium on fracking since the day it was introduced last spring, and why we are urging Springfield to stop this dirty drilling today.”

The groups are supporting two bills that were introduced early this session, Senate Bill 1418 and House Bill 3086 (introduced by state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, and state Rep. Deb Mell, D-Chicago, respectively. Both bills provide for a moratorium on the dirty drilling process known as fracking.

More than 60 concerned citizens from all parts of the state were expected to participate in the March 12 Lobby Day against fracking. They distributed signed petitions to the governor and other state officials urging them to support a moratorium on fracking.

Many of these state groups also oppose the current pro-industry bill presented by state Rep. John E. Bradley, House Bill 2615, the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, which they maintain is premature, insufficient and unenforceable.

It simply does not adequately protect the environment and residents of Illinois,” said Dr. Lora Chamberlain, of the Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking.

Illinois People’s Action, a large coalition of groups based in central Illinois, organized a lobby day opposed to fracking only last week, and participated again in the March 12 event.

We have many areas of concern,” said Dawn Dannenberg, of Illinois People’s Action, “including the health and safety of those near drilling sites, massive use of water, storage of toxic waste, release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) at well sites, and local control.” H.B. 2615 does not sufficiently address these issues, according to organizers of the March 12 event.

Although claims have been made that all interests were represented during negotiations for this bill, these groups strongly disagree.

Nobody listened to us before the Bradley bill was drafted,” said SAFE member Annette McMichael. “Industry says we were represented in the closed-door sessions. I assure you we were not.”

They’re not going to turn our beautiful Shawnee Hills into an industrial wasteland without further conversation,” McMichael added. “Today is just the beginning.”

Groups represented in the statewide lobbying effort included The Illinois Coalition For a Moratorium on Fracking (ICMF), S.A.F.E. (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment, CAPOW! (Citizens Act to Protect Our Water), Stop the Frack Attack on Illinois, Rising Tide, RAN Chicago, IPA (Illinois People’s Action), the Gray Panthers and Environment Illinois.

Posted March 13, 2013

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