From: The Illinois Coalition For A Moratorium on Fracking
Dr. Lora Chamberlain
773 486 7660
ICMF spokesperson Dr. Lora Chamberlain today called the April 30th, Republican press conference on fracking led by Minority Leader Tom Cross “absolutely misguided”, and urged lawmakers to continue to block legislative maneuvers in the IL House, such as the one on May 1st by Rep. Mike Bost attempting to move the fracking regulatory bill, HB2615, out of the House Rules committee.
“HB 2615 is insufficient and unenforceable, and will not protect our land, air, and water” she said. “It would give a green light for dangerous fracking in Illinois before legislators have a chance to review important new studies now underway, including the EPA report on water contamination nationwide and the $1million Geisinger study of the effects of fracking on public health in Pennsylvania, due out later this year. We call for Springfield to move on HB3086 instead, the moratorium on fracking with an independent science-based investigative task force,” Dr. Chamberlain said.
ICMF asks legislators to slow down and study the science that is coming out, regarding the health, pollution, climate warming and earthquake risks of fracking.
HB 3086, the moratorium on fracking in the House, carried by Rep. Deborah Mell, is currently stalled in the House Rules committee. ICMF calls on Speaker Mike Madigan to bring it to the floor. ICMF also calls on Senate President John Cullerton to allow similar moratorium legislation to move forward in the Senate, so that the risks of fracking can be discussed in depth by our state legislature.
“This is one of the most important issues facing our state, “ say ICMF member Bev Walters of CAPOW, (Citizens Act To Protect Our Water), “yet discussions have been held behind closed doors. It is a disgrace. The legislators and the public need to be fully included in a discussion of something that will affect the state for decades and generations. We need protection now. Once water is contaminated or a person dies of cancer, it will be too late.”
ICMF members will be going back to Springfield on May 8 to call for action on the moratorium bills. On March 12, over 100 citizens lobbyists from ICMF and Illinois People’s Action participated in an all day lobbying event to push for a moratorium on fracking. Yesterday, May 2nd, there was a very successful Food and Water Watch campaign calling for concerned Illinois residents to call the Gov, AG, Speaker Madigan and Senate Pres. Cullerton asking them to “kill the regulatory bill and slow down with a moratorium and investigations of fracking.” At the same time, there were many environmentalists in Springfield advocating for the moratorium on fracking.
“Members of both houses have been provided with ample evidence of the dangers of fracking and of the failure of the industry to produce the promised job numbers and prosperity. They have been given evidence and it is their responsibility to make decisions for the welfare of the citizens of the state and not for the benefit of out-of-state companies,” charges Dr. Chamberlain. “In addition, we consider that it is unethical, and it should be illegal, for members of the legislature to vote for legislation that will financially benefit them directly. In other states when legislators vote for their own personal financial benefit it is called “corruption”. We ask the Illinois lawmakers who have signed leases with the Oil and Natural Gas companies or who have trucking companies that will have contracts for the fracking companies or those with other financial ties to fracking industry to stand down and recuse themselves from the votes on either regulations or a moratorium. The health and well-being of their constituents should be pre-eminent in their minds but we think that some IL leglisators have been blinded by what seems to be personal gain.”
The legacy of the 98th General Assembly could very well hinge on how it deals, or fails to deal, with the issue of fracking. Spills, poisoned wells, pollution of aquifers and rivers, infrastructure damage, earthquakes, cases of cancer, neurological diseases or death have occurred in the states where fracking has taken place – to think that would not happen in Illinois would be magical thinking.
Critics of HB2615 maintain that it is a sham regulatory bill, which gives only a fig-leaf of protection. Among its many inadequacies cited, the bill fails to limit the amount of water that companies can withdraw and provides for setbacks of only 500 feet from schools, hospitals, and senior centers. As currently practiced, fracking will consume hundreds of billions of gallons of fresh water in Illinois, and return it as toxic and radioactive waste. The State of Illinois has no viable plan for disposing of this toxic waste. Once contaminated, the water will be unavailable for drinking, agriculture, or tourism. The track record of the industry is one of frequent accidents and spills, with resulting contamination of local water supplies. ProPublica reported over 1000 such incidents nationwide in 2011 alone.
The oil and gas industry has acquired leases in central Illinois, near the Mahomet aquifer, putting at risk the drinking water for 850,000 people. The industry, in talks with Madigan’s office, has balked at regulations to require a certified water well driller at each frack site. ICMF maintains that this reticence on the part of the industry to hire certified Illinois water well drillers gives clear evidence that the industry lacks the “good neighbor commitment” to protecting the water and environment of the local residents.
In spite of industry promises of up to 125 jobs per well, employment and income figures in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Texas show that fracking has not created jobs or prosperity. The jobs that fracking creates – few as they will be – are temporary and toxic. Critics of fracking fear that it will create a boom and bust economy as has happened in other states. “The industry projects from 1000 to 47,000 jobs, this is a pseudo-statistic with such a wide range as to make it meaningless,” charges S.A.F.E. member Rich Fedder.
Frack gas (gas obtained by high pressure, horizontal, hydraulic fracturing) has been touted as a bridge fuel. However, the 5-9% of methane released from leaking wells, according to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, means that fracking will accelerate global warming far beyond the traditional impact of burning coal since methane is a potent greenhouse gas 25 times more potent that carbon dioxide.
HB2615 fails to provide for workers’ protection. Without protections, critics claim, we can expect accidents and worker health problems. From a recent PennEnvironment press release, it was revealed that over 100,000 Pennslyvanians had signed a petition for a moratorium to Gov. Tom Corbett. One signatory, Rick “Mac” Sawyer said, “My life has been devastated by working in the gas fields. Without proper training, tools or protection, I was routinely sent out to handle toxic fracking fluid in unsafe ways,” said Rick “Mac” Sawyer. “Now, a year later, I’m sick, with no health insurance. The gas companies don’t care about the health and safety of their employees, or any Pennsylvanians for that matter.” Bev Walters of ICMF asks, “if fracking is so wonderful, why do 100,000 residents in PA want it to stop?”
HB2615 makes no mention of earthquakes though the injection of fluids deep underground has been shown to cause earthquakes along dormant fault lines in Oklahoma and Ohio. ICMF is very concerned that fracking along the active New Madrid and Wabash fault lines in Southern Illinois may induce a major earthquake.
The legislative session is drawing rapidly to a conclusion and there is still no bill on the floor for discussion or vote. ICMF members say, “When the first spill poisons a well, or the first earthquake is stimulated, or the first case of cancer is reported, the victims should hold the Illinois legislators and leadership personally responsible, because they have all been alerted of the many dangers of fracking and they seem to be turning a blind eye to the hard evidence.”
“Fracking is an accident-prone, carcinogen-dependent, climate-destroying enterprise which uses our land as its factory floor and turns rural communities into industrial zones. Instead of subsidizing fossil fuels and nuclear energy to the tune of billions of dollars, we should be investing in long-term, green energy industries, such as solar and wind. “Yes, we want more jobs, but they should be safe, long term jobs. Fracking jobs have been called the most dangerous in the nation,” says ICMF member Rich Fedder.
ICMF is a growing coalition of community and environmental groups which are working together to support a Moratorium on Fracking, the Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking includes, Stop the Frack Attack on Illinois, SAFE (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment), Citizens Act to Protect Our Water, Rainforest Action Network Chicago, MoveOn.org Illinois, PDA Illinois, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Chicago Area Peace Action, Rising Tide, the Chicago Chapter of World Can’t Wait and Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water. The Coalition works with other partners who support the moratorium as well such as Illinois People’s Action, Environment Illinois, Food & Water Watch and Sierra Club Illinois.
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