Online Staff Report
CHICAGO — June 11, a coalition of grassroots organizations led by Americans Against Fracking, Food & Water Watch, Moveon.org, 350.org, Breast Cancer Action, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Action, Frack Action and Progressive Democrats of America rallied at the Wrigley View Rooftop to tell Democratic governors, including Illiniois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), not to play ball with the oil and gas industry.
The event took place as Quinn is expected to sign into law a bill that would give the oil and gas industry the regulatory certainty it needs to pursue hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Illinois. It was the second in a series taking place across the United States this summer to urge Democratic governors such as Martin O’Malley (Md.), Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.) and Jerry Brown (Calif.), all of whom are facing critical decisions regarding fracking in their states, to reject the increasingly controversial energy practice.
“Merely regulating fracking will not protect us against its harmful effects, and that’s what makes the new fracking bill in Illinois so dangerous,” said Food & Water Watch Midwest Regional Director Emily Carroll. “Fracking is inherently unsafe and must be banned. That’s why we’re calling on Gov. Quinn to do right by millions of Illinoisans and veto any bill that allows fracking in Illinois.”
Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1715, which lays the legal groundwork for fracking to take place in the state. The bill endangers public health by establishing weak standards of operation for the oil and gas industry. It also fails to require full disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking, and would allow fracking operations to set up 500 feet from water wells, homes, churches, schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
S.B. 1715 would allow the process to take place 300 feet from rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and would endanger water supplies by only sampling and testing water near drilling sites up to 30 months after drilling and fracking, despite the fact that the risk of underground contamination associated with these activities can persist for years.
“We can’t let our nation’s mad rush to drill compromise the vitality and health of our communities, as fracking and drilling for oil and gas has done time after time,” said Gasland II director and Americans Against Fracking Advisory Committee member Josh Fox. “Rather than cutting back-room deals that only serve to benefit the oil and gas industry, Gov. Quinn should be standing up for the people of Illinois by banning this toxic, reckless process.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has attracted criticism from public-interest groups for his failure to use science to guide his decision on opening up the state to fracking. Last April, the O’Malley-appointed Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission issued a draft report warning that fracking could have significant negative impacts in Maryland. Still, O’Malley and other Maryland leaders are pushing forward with drilling as if it is inevitable and establishing best management practices for the industry using guidelines developed by the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), an industry group led by representatives from CONSOL Energy, Shell, Chevron, EQT Corporation and the Environmental Defense Fund.
“From poisoned water and agriculture to poisoned economies, the people of Illinois are doubtful that a regulatory bill will protect them and their resources from the myriad toxic effects of fracking,” said Mara Cohen, a MoveOn member from Illinois. “Until there is incontrovertible evidence that fracking does not hurt public health, the environment or local economies, we urge Gov. Quinn to pursue a moratorium on the practice.”
Through the event, protestors hoped to tell Democratic leaders they are accountable to the public and their concerns about the dangers associated with fracking in their states. Communities in many states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming, have already experienced devastating public health and environmental problems associated with this polluting and controversial form of energy extraction. To date, more than 350 communities in the United States have passed resolutions against fracking.
Jesse Bacon, former Chicago resident and field organizer for Environmental Action, said: “Chicago would not be Chicago without Lake Michigan, a stunningly beautiful natural treasure that provides drinking water to millions. Moreover, the state that’s home to the ‘Windy City’ obviously has renewable resources aplenty without polluting its own air and water through the dangerous and dirty drilling method known as fracking. The Democratic governors gathered there today need to take home the message that there’s no safe way, and no actual need, to play ball with fracking.”
Posted June 12, 2013