Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why We Care About Fracking

Christina Martinez shares her insight on Fracking.

What is FRACKING?
Hydraulic Fracturing aka FRACKING is the method used by the natural gas industry
to extract methane gas from shale rock. Millions of gallons of water along with sand and 600 plus toxic chemicals are used under high pressure to break shale rock underneath the earth's surface releasing the methane that is then contained and sold. States such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas all have cases involving well water contamination, air quality violations, seepage of toxic chemicals into the groundwater, cattle dying from cancers, children and adults suffering from asthma, leukemia, and other types of cancers as a result of over 10 years of fracking. There are plans for fracking to begin in our state of Illinois.

Description of specific issue:
The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HFRA) was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by Governor Quinn on May 31, 2013. On November 15, 2013 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) submitted their first draft of the rules. These rules were to be the toughest in the country. They would essentially regulate the fracking industry. Public comment in Chicago regarding these rules took place at the University of Illinois on Tuesday November 26 just 2 days before Thanksgiving 2013. Throughout the state it was determined that 35,000 public comments were submitted. The majority of the comments were not in favor of the rules. Many said that the rules were too lenient on the gas companies and not stringent enough on issues of public health. IDNR must read and respond to every single comment received before it submits its second draft on November 15, 2014.
Fair Economy Illinois and the Sierra Club drafted a document called the “Dirty Thirty” that identifies exactly where and how the rules have fallen short. 
OUR ASK: We demand that no permits be issued until the dirty 30 are addressed. We ask legistlators to   
  1. ensure the IDNR rules reflect the spirit and intent of the law and (2) insist on the inclusion of the Dirty 30 on the IDNR rules.

History of Wins/Partial Wins:

On May 21, 2013 Gasland director Josh Fox, author Dr. Sandra Steingraber, and Tabitha Tripp of SAFE spoke against SB 1715  at the Illinois House Executive Committee Hearings. SB 1715 was passed by the Illinois GA and signed by Gov Quinn on May 31, 2013. SB 1715 is what is now known as HFRA the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act.

On November 15, 2013 the IDNR submitted draft rules which would detail how fracking will be regulated in the state of Illinois.

On Tuesday November 26, 2013 400 people packed a room at UIC to submit public comments to the IDNR fracking rules. The majority of the commenters oppose fracking in Illinois.

During the month of December 2013 members of Frack Free Illinois, Chicagoland Against Fracking, SAFE etc.. approached members of JCAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) to educate them on flaws in the IDNR rules. The rules have too many loopholes and benefit the oil/gas companies instead of the public health.

On January 19, 2014 at the MLK IIRON public meeting Gov Quinn's AID committed not to issue any permits until the DIRTY 30 is addressed. 

On March 25, 2014 Fair Economy Illinois organized a LOBBY DAY. The anti-fracking contingent met with members of the Green Caucus, JCAR and rallied inside the headquarters of the IDNR.

On Friday May 23, 2014 Democrat John Bradley presented SB 0649 which would essentially bypass the IDNR's rulemaking process for fracking in Illinois. This bill would disregard the 35,000 public comments submitted back on November 26, 2013 and allow the gas companies to begin fracking in southern Illinois. On Monday May 26 (Memorial Day holiday) people from IPA, Sierra Club, FEI, SAFE packed the hearing room and voiced their opposition to SB 0649. The bill died as there were not enough votes to support John Bradley's efforts.

Current Battle:

Governor Quinn is running for Illinois Governor. He is up against Bruce Rauner a Republican and there is a Green Party candidate. Quinn has not publicly affirned his commitment. He does not discuss fracking on his campaign trail. He tries to avoid the topic even when confronted by activists. Numerous attempts to schedule a meeting with Quinn have failed. Various anti-fracking groups have attempted to bring attention to the fracking issue at various public functions where Quinn has appeared.
The current strategy among activists is to press the issue on Quinn wherever he can be publicly addressed.
The Bridgeport Alliance is helping to bring this issue to the community. They held a screening at Benton House of the documentary GASLAND by Emmy award winner Josh Fox. This took place
on Saturday May 17, 2014. About 20 people attended the screening. There was lots of heated and angry discussion afterwards. One concrete thing that people did was to write a letter to Governor Quinn expressing their concern for fracking in Illinois. Everyone who came to the screening opposes fracking in Illinois. Cristina Martinez an anti-fracking activist with the Bridgeport Alliance took those letters to Governor Quinn's office on the 16th floor of the State of Illinois building.  It is hoped that the governor will take the time to read each and every letter.

Email info@bridgeportalliance.org to get involved.

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