CHICAGO, IL — Today at 12:30pm a large group of Illinois residents and environmental advocates gathered to demand the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Governor Rauner deny Woolsey Operating Company a fracking permit, pass a fracking ban and promote clean, renewable energy to protect all of Illinois.
Fracking for oil and gas creates dangerous and negative impacts on public health and would be an environmental catastrophe for rural Illinois. The practice requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and a toxic combination of chemicals which have been proven to contaminate surrounding air, water, and soil.
“When oil companies frack, they leave a trail of devastation behind them. We’ve seen this in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Texas, and in North Dakota. We know exactly what will happen if they bring fracking here to Illinois,” said Mel Whitehouse, Food & Water Watch. “Fracking is a desperate effort to save a dying industry. We’re looking at you, Governor Rauner, and the rest of the officials we elected in Illinois to step up and protect us.”
Peer reviewed, scientific studies have proven time and time again that the process of injecting fluids and chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas is linked to heightened exposure to radioactive elements in nearby communities. Radioactive elements like radon and uranium have extreme risks. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive material whose release is accelerated by fracking. It’s also the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers in the United States, killing more than 20,000 Americans each year.
“People in Illinois deserve access to scientifically accurate information about how fracking can impact their families and their health,” said J.C. Kibbey, Midwest Outreach and Policy Advocate with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We live in a democracy and our values demand that citizens have the opportunity to make their voices heard as part of an open, public decision-making process for any proposed fracking sites in their communities.”
There is also significant evidence that fracking induces seismicity. Last year, the University of Calgary found that fracking can trigger “stress changes” resulting in earthquakes. The New Albany Shale in Southern Illinois, precisely where Woolsey Operating plans to frack, is co-located among most major fault systems in Illinois, and along with two primary seismic zones known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. Opening the New Albany Shale up to drilling and fracking would increase the likelihood of increased seismicity putting millions of people at risk.
“It's encouraging to see people in Chicago rally in support of protecting the environment of rural Illinois. In the years since Illinois passed a law to regulate fracking, numerous studies have shown that fracking continues to be a threat to the health, water, and land of neighboring communities. Southern Illinois must not be sacrificed to a process that cannot be made reliably safe,” said Will Reynolds, member of SAFE (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment).
Welcoming fracking to Illinois would be a dirty deal in an age where climate change poses the largest environmental threat ever known by humankind and it is not worth the risk.
“When leaders in Washington abdicate responsibility to protect us from the social and environmental damages of the fossil fuel industry, it is up to Illinoisans to stand up and fight back. Here, the fight begins with hydraulic fracking. We say, enough is enough”, said Dave Davis, a representative of 350 Kishwaukee. “Illinois and the surrounding area have suffered enough from the ravages of the fossil fuel industry, from petcoke on the Southeast Side to the destruction of prime farm ground by the Dakota Access pipeline in Central Illinois to coal mines in the South. We know that we have well defined renewable energy solutions, we just need to build the political will to implement them.’