Concerned Residents of Illinois

After more than a hundred Illinoisans packed a hearing and rallied in the Capitol yesterday for a moratorium on fracking, they demanded a meeting with Gov. Quinn to voice their concerns about fracking. The residents from Southern Illinois and across the state pointed to how fracking will pollute the air, contaminate the water and put the health and well-being of their families at risk.

Sandra Steingraber, PhD biologist, distinguished scholar at Ithaca College and founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, testified yesterday at the House Executive Committee hearing on the Illinois fracking regulatory bill:

Shale gas extraction via fracking is an accident-prone, carcinogen-dependent enterprise that turns communities into industrial zones. Until you understand and quantify these costs, you cannot claim that fracking Illinois will provide net economic benefits, nor can you claim that the current set of proposed regulations—which were promulgated behind closed doors without the involvement of Illinois’ public health community—are sufficiently protective.

… Here’s what we’ve learned in New York: Regulations cannot prevent well casings from leaking as they age and fail. Or keep methane from migrating through underground faults. Or eliminate the 24/7 noise pollution from drilling. Regulations cannot keep benzene from rising out of boreholes. There is no good storage solution for radioactive wastewater. And the jobs fracking provides are temporary and toxic.

After sitting in at the Governor’s office on Tuesday demanding a meeting—following many denied meeting requests—Angie Viands was arrested for refusing to leave. This morning, two more Illinoisans resumed the sit in. At present they are still sitting in, having been told by the capitol police that their action would result in a “one way ticket.”

Dayna Connor, a Southern Illinois resident, mother of three and one of the residents currently sitting in, said, “The residents in the areas targeted for fracking have been denied any meeting and any voice in the backdoor negotiations. Gov. Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan have negotiated away our health and wellbeing to the gas industry for fracking that will devastate our homes and put our families at risk. It will harm the land, jeopardizing the living communities. They’ve thrown science to the wind in what has been an anti-democratic process.”

They are demanding that Gov. Quinn meet with affected communities to discuss the need for a moratorium on fracking and that he rethink his support of State Bill 1715, a grossly inadequate regulatory bill crafted by the gas industry and their lawyers, without any scientific studies or scientific basis.

The sit in continues at Gov. Quinn’s office in the Capitol Building in Springfield, IL.

William Rau, spokesperson for Illinois People’s Action and professor emeritus, Illinois State Univesity, also testified on the fracking moratorium bill:

The bill supersedes Article XI of the Illinois State Constitution that guarantees us the right to a healthful environment, as well as the right to sue both governmental and private parties that infringe upon that right. This bill protects oil and gas companies; it does not protect Illinois citizens.

… All we have to do is look to Pennsylvania to see what has happened when a state tries to regulate. PA has had over 3,000 violations since 2009. And they aren’t minor violations—hundreds of violations of discharging pollution into the waters of the commonwealth or failure to adequately store the waste. We can’t afford that here. …

… All-in all, this is a “production for nothing, wells for free” revenue bill. Let me restate that point: this is not a jobs bill, this is not a regulatory bill. It is a revenue bill, more correctly, a sweetheart revenue bill that gives a tax holiday to wealthy corporations.

Josh Trost, another resident who is currently sitting in at Gov. Quinn’s office said, “The fracking regulatory bill is woefully inadequate, will not protect public health and the environment, and spits in the face of citizens and science. We need a moratorium on fracking and to base the decision on science and the best interests of all Illinoisans, not backroom deals with the oil and gas industry.”

Critics of the regulatory bill see it as a “Trojan horse” that will allow fracking into Illinois and may set a dangerous precedent for other states. The industry-friendly bill puts into place minimal safeguards and leaves citizens vulnerable.

On Tuesday, concerned Illinoisans packed the House Executive Committee hearing on the bill, exclaiming their opposition to the bill.  Testimonies also came from Josh Fox, director of Gasland, Carolyn Raffensperger, former president of the Illinois Environmental Council and state field pepresentative of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and many other concerned Illinoisans who urged lawmakers to put the brakes on fracking in Illinois.

When the bill passed through the committee, the room erupted in chants of “shame!”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium: