[Join Illinois People’s Action in a day of action against fracking on March 4th. Call the IPA office, 309-827-9627 for details of the event and for transportation options (more info forthcoming). For background on the fracking fight, read the article below, as well as the following IPA statements: Press Release on HB 2615, Governor Quinn Wrong on Fracking Bill, and “In the Fracking Fight, Whose Side Are You On?”.]
It’s time to step up the fight to ban fracking in Illinois! Environmentalists will be gearing up to kill an industry bill, HB 2615, that would give the green light for big energy corporations to begin fracking in Illinois.
The fracking industry advanced its cause on Thursday, as pro-fracking HB 2615 legislation – dubbed the Bradley Bill – was introduced in Illinois with the support of Democrats, self-described environmentalists and the AFL-CIO. Unfortunately, the Illinois Environmental Council, which serves as an umbrella coalition for many environmentalist organizations in the state, has given its stamp of approval to the bill.
The Illinois Environmental Council, including some of its largest affiliates, had already accepted defeat in entering negotiations, declaring that fracking was inevitably coming to Illinois. Accustomed to professional lobbying and negotiating behind closed doors, the large organizations that form the coalition do not put significant resources into grassroots social mobilizations as a means to defeat fracking in the state.
[For a list of the organizations in the Illinois Environmental Council, visit their affiliate page. According to a staff person within the Illinois Environmental Council, only ‘lead affiliates’ (those organizations who “pay more” to play) have a vote to determine its direction.]
Not all environmental and community organizations, however, support the legislation. Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE), Food and Water Watch, Illinois People’s Action, and IPA ally Vision 2020 Bloomington-Normal, just to name a few, are opposed to fracking and call for a ban. They do so for three main reasons: fracking is too damaging to our environment and our health to be regulated, penalties set forth in the bill are simply a cost of doing business for gas companies, and fracking contributes to climate change and sets us on the wrong path for the future.
Illinois People’s Action member, Bill Rau, explained in an IPA press release the numerous shortcomings of the bill, labeling it a DE-regulation bill. Give-aways to industry include:
The right to frack within 301 feet of lakes, like Lake Bloomington, Peoria Lake, Lake Springfield, or Lake Decatur, or 501 feet of your water well (best practice is 3,300 feet or 1 km);
Unlimited venting of raw methane during well completion — runaway climate change, here we come;
No minimum vertical separation distance, i.e., the distance between groundwater and the top of the shale strata — which is crucial in the shallow New Albany Formation;
No testing of radioactivity in produced water, along with the right to flush radioactivity down Class II injection wells, which is presently prohibited under Illinois law;
The right to “temporarily” use open pit ponds to store flowback water;
The right to frack within 501 feet of residences, churches, schools, etc.
No ban on fracking in seismically active areas;
No provisions about those thousands of inactive or MIA oil wells that aren’t located on plat maps — these are “fast paths” for polluting groundwater; and
Removal of local control from counties with regard to the permitting process. Fracking permits will be issued by IDNR; counties can formally object to a permit but the bill doesn’t specify how the objections will be handled.
Why would environmentalist organizations support this bill, especially when environmental movements, like in New York, have achieved some momentum opposing fracking?
Almost a rule, the professional lobbyists often concede defeat from the beginning. In their view, it would be better to support “regulation” of the “inevitable” rather than prioritize a grassroots movement that seeks to win.
But this defeatism is wrong for two reasons. First, as mentioned, “regulating” fracking won’t make it safe. And most importantly, environmentalist movements nationwide have some momentum, and if all of us – including the large environmentalist organizations – were to coalesce around a ‘Ban Fracking’ movement, we would be large and powerful enough to win.
The people have the power to beat back the frack attack. We call for a ban of fracking in Illinois and nationwide, in solidarity with environmentalists across the nation.
In Central Illinois, Illinois People’s Action will be working to ban fracking in the state, and one way you can be involved is to join us, March 4th, for a Day of Action against Fracking. Call IPA, 309-827-9627, for details of the day, including transportation to Springfield from BloNo (more details forthcoming soon) In southern Illinois, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) is holding a public forum in Carbondale, IL, ‘The Fracking Truth’, on March 1st. Steve Horn will be the keynote speaker and the event will build support for SB 1418, a moratorium on fracking in Illinois. Together we can win!
Illinois People’s Action: In the Fracking Fight, Which Side Are You On? We Just Found Out.
Illinois People’s Action: Press Release on HB 2615
Illinois People’s Action: Governor Quinn Wrong on Fracking Bill