Unfortunately, three bills introduced this year in the Illinois legislature that would have banned or restricted fracking across the state were not voted out of committee in this session. But the work put into supporting them sets the stage for future efforts toward a complete ban on fracking in Illinois. The bills would have forced oil companies to disclose the toxic chemicals used in fracking, compelled them to let homeowners know about drilling under their property, or banned the practice entirely.
The legislative efforts came after Food & Water Watch and other groups fought--and won--the battle against the first fracking permits requested in the state by the industry a year ago. That fight underscored how woefully inadequate fracking regulations currently are. For example, companies can force pooling, which is the practice of forcing a landowner into an oil and/or gas producing contract against their will. What’s more, companies that practice low- and medium-volume fracking (fracking using less than 300,000 gallons of water) do not have to report where they’re fracking or what chemicals they are using for two years. This means that frackers could be drilling near homes or schools without alerting families, or be drilling under homeowners’ property without their approval.
To address these issues, the Illinois Coalition Against Fracking (ICAF), which includes Food & Water Watch, worked with legislators to introduce three bills that would protect landowners, disclose fracking chemicals, and most critically, prohibit fracking altogether. ICAF decided that despite our earlier success in preventing fracking permits, it made no sense to fight them individually; the real goal had to be banning the practice entirely.
Despite not securing a legislative victory this year, ICAF has made significant progress. We’ve built partnerships with new organizations and individuals that are committed to the fight to ban fracking in our state. We’ve shown the legislature that Illinoisans are committed to move beyond the dirty practice of fracking and on to renewable energy. And we’ve learned critical lessons about the legislative process in Springfield that we’ll use to organize support for a full fracking ban in the next voting session.
We’ll be back next year, stronger than ever, and with the support of Food & Water Watch members, we’ll ban fracking in Illinois once and for all.