Over 60 people protested Monday in Springfield against a legislative bill, HB 2615, that if passed will bring hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to Illinois. Illinois People’s Action organized the grassroots rally and lobby action, joined by Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE) and Food and Water Watch.
People arrived in the capitol early in the morning, many carpooling in a caravan from Bloomington-Normal, stopping first at the Northfield Hotel where a pro-fracking seminar hosted by the Association of Illinois County Board and Commissioners was taking place. It was known that the seminar – run jointly by business, large environmental NGOs, and state regulators – would promote HB 2615, or “regulated” fracking, as the only way forward on the issue.
IPA held a rally outside the hotel, leafleting and speaking with county board members and commissioners from across the state.
Amid the lively chants in the hotel parking lot, numerous speakers addressed the crowd. After greetings by Cristina Deutsch and Reverend Charles Jackson, Bill Rau outlined the fatal flaws with regulating fracking through HB 2615, and Annette McMichael of SAFE spoke passionately on how her property rights would be threatened by fracking operations in southern Illinois.
Illinois People’s Action members and allies then traveled to the state capitol to meet with Governor Quinn and give him petitions that contained over 600 signatures opposing fracking in Illinois. The governor was not in the state, but his staffers met with IPA representative Barbara Heyl, denying a meeting with the entire group.
Concluding the day, IPA held a meeting with the office of Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, to share displeasure with HB 2615, labeling it a defeat for ordinary citizens and grassroots environmentalists.
Representatives for Lisa Madigan defended the fracking bill as inevitable once lobbyists could not find enough support at the capitol for a moratorium. Her office, and a number of organizations in the Illinois Environmental Council, decided to support “regulated” fracking after the failure of their ineffectual behind-the-scenes lobbying of legislators.
IPA’s leadership team criticized the bill for its many flaws, and disagreed with the very notion that fracking could be made safe by regulation.
The Attoney Genral’s office claimed that HB 2615 provides the strictest regulations of fracking in the country, to which Dawn Dannenbring-Carlson responded “Strict does not mean safe.” As Bill Rau pointed out, the bill does not do enough to protect our air, water and land in Illinois.
It was also pointed out by Dawn Dannenbring-Carlson that the “environmentalist” negotiators were cherry-picked by Representative Bradley, and anti-fracking activists were denied a place at the table from the beginning.
State Journal Register (Springfield): Anti-Fracking Protestors Stage Rally in Springfield, by Tim Landis
WICS Channel 20 (ABC): Grassroots Org Protests Fracking Bill (VIDEO)