SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (IRN) – In early June, Southern Illinois lawmakers blocked an anti-fracking bill that could have blocked a potential $100 billion dollar new gas and oil boom in the region.
Now a group of land owners in Southern part of the state is urging the governor and lawmakers to prevent hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting natural gas. It has been going on in Illinois for 50 years with vertical wells, but new technology using diagonal wells raises environmental concerns over water wells and aquifers being contaminated, the amount of water used in fracking, and what is done with the waste water.
Fracking opponents say contamination has occurred, and contaminated water has been consumed by people, farm animals and wildlife. Liz Patula of Makanda says large fracking operations must be prevented.
“It all boils down to the question of how many families are we willing to sacrifice before we look at this as a state? I wish that number were zero, but we already have a list going, and this list is going to explode if large-scale fracking comes to Illinois,” she said.
Patula was one of several who spoke at a rally outside the Thompson Center in Chicago, carrying signs saying “Water is for Farming, not Fracking,” after participating in a conference call with Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Miller said he is sympathetic to the land owners’ concerns, but Illinois law provides for little regulatory authority. Neither is fracking regulated under federal law. The process does provide revenue for land owners, mostly farmers, who are looking for extra money.
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