In a shameful capitulation to corporate power and influence, both chambers of the Illinois legislature voted Friday to give polluting industries – both oil and gas – regulatory protection to frack Illinois land. SB 1715 passed the House 108-9 on Thursday evening, and then the Senate approved it Friday afternoon. It is certain to be signed by Governor Quinn, who has erroneously labeled it a jobs bill.
The political struggle over SB 1715 pitted compromise-oriented environmental organizations against a grassroots movement of Illinois citizens opposed to fracking. To cement the deal, politicians on both sides of the aisle sat down with the heads of industry and political bureaucracies, intentionally excluding downstate Illinois residents who will be affected by the dangerous practice.
The grassroots movement – led by numerous groups throughout the state and by Illinois People’s Action in central Illinois – argued from the perspective of science, pointing out that the regulations would not make fracking safe for people and the land. That message was amplified when leaders of the national anti-fracking movement, including Gaslands director Josh Fox and renowned biologist Sandra Steingraber, spoke at the Gaslands II premiere in Normal, Illinois and testified numerous times at the state capitol. Illinois residents opposed to fracking attended rallies and spoke with political leaders at the capitol, and dozens engaged in civil disobedience by a sit-in in front of the governor’s office.
Immediately following the vote for fracking, Sandra Steingraber protested from the balcony of the Senate chamber: “This bill is a betrayal of science, this bill is a betrayal of democracy, this bill is a betrayal to the children of Illinois.”
Now that fracking is now the law in Illinois, the citizen-powered anti-fracking movement will now move into a new stage. Illinois People’s Action expressed it well in a press release Friday afternoon: “The fight will move from the Capitol where oil and gas corporations hold sway to the neighborhoods, rural and urban, where grassroots support for a healthy and clean environment is strong.”
For information on how to be involved in the fight against fracking here in BloNo, contact Illinois People’s Action at (309) 827-9627.
Movement Statements on the Passage of SB 1715
Illinois People’s Action Statement (Facebook Status Update)
For an excellent catalogue of coverage of the anti-fracking movement in Illinois, visit the Illinois People’s Action fracking press links page.