Over 130 people from all over Illinois gathered in Springfield yesterday, urging legislators to support a 2-year moratorium on the dirty drilling process known as fracking. The activists – and over 13 grassroots environmentalist groups – support moratorium bills SB 1418 and HB 3086, as an alternative to the pro-fracking, ALEC-influenced bill, HB 2615.
The Illinois Environment Council (IEC), and a handful of its big members, have gotten behind the gas industry bill, supporting the insufficient and unenforceable regulation of fracking, when in New York a grassroots movement is keeping fracking out of their state.
Here in Illinois, the grassroots movement opposing HB 2615 and fracking is represented by a statewide coalition, including CAPOW! (Citizens Act to Protect Our Water), Environment Illinois, the Gray Panthers, Illinois Coalition For a Moratorium on Fracking (ICMF), Illinois People’s Action (IPA), Food and Water Watch, RAN Chicago, Rising Tide, S.A.F.E. (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment), Stop the Frack Attack on Illinois, among others.
In response to criticisms of the large environmentalist organizations, IEC Executive Director Jennifer Walling characterized the division between groups as “between the established ‘environmental coalition’ and the ‘activists and occupy groups.'” The distinction made by Walling, between professional insiders and grassroots activists, is one that the grassroots groups accept as a telling indication of where the two sides are coming from.
Just prior to the rally and lobby day, Illinois People’s Action (www.illinoispeoplesaction.org) occupied the office of the Illinois Petroleum Institute and challenged former legislator, now lobbyist Jim Watson, on their support of dirty profits over clean water. See Michael Perrillo’s video below for full coverage of the action.