That’s the message a growing coalition of organizations and concerned citizens is sending to industry and decision-makers regarding the proposal to open Illinois to high-volume hydraulic fracturing–or fracking.
Gas leasing speculation has been quite a spectacle in Illinois, especially in the southeastern counties where shale gas development is thought to be the most promising. We learned early on that the state has virtually no regulations in place to protect the public and the environment from the hazards of fracking. Seeing all to0 clearly the myriad of damages to people, communities and the environment that shale gas development has caused in other states a coalition of environmental organizations came together to address the issue head on.
For nearly a year, Sierra Club and other organizations have established a list of measures that are necessary for the protection of people and places in Illinois. They include:
- Chemical disclosure–before fracking–of exactly what chemicals are being used in the frack.
- Baseline groundwater testing before the frack and following monitoring afterwards.
- Water withdrawal plans.
- An adequate public notice and appeal process for frack well permits.
- Adequate setbacks from water supplies, including water wells, streams, ponds and lakes.
- Prohibition on the use of toxic chemicals such as BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene).
- Prohibition of storing wastewater in open pits.
- Treating fracking waste as hazardous waste.
- Ending clean air act exemptions for fracking sites.
Until industry is willing to accept reasonable regulations that protect the environment and the people who depend upon it for their lives and livelihoods, no permits should be issued for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Therefore, we continue to support a moratorium on fracking until Illinois has developed robust and comprehensive regulations that protect people and places from an activity that has been so harmful in other parts of the country.
Please ask your state legislators for his or her support by co-sponsoring Senate Bill 3280 with a moratorium on fracking until robust regulations have been developed.
And, please support this important campaign by taking part in the Don’t Frack With Illinois event—a virtual fundraising event sponsored by the Shawnee Group Sierra Club. Win a handcrafted acoustic guitar generously donated by Whipple Creek Guitars in Pomona, Illinois. Visit the event website to buy tickets and your chance to WIN!!
High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing Background Information
Industry is proposing to use high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing to reach oil and/or natural gas in the New Albany Shale. After drilling into the shale, which is located between 4,000 to 5,000 feet down, the well bore is then drilled horizontally for one to two miles. Following the drilling the well is then “completed” or “fracked.” Fracking is process in which water, sand and toxic chemicals (fracking fluid) are injected into the well at high pressure to create small cracks in the rock that allow natural gas to freely flow to the surface.
Each well uses between 2 to 8 million gallons of fresh water taken from our lakes and aquifers. Since one well is often fracked up to 18 times and there could be one well for every forty acres of land within the New Albany Shale, this amounts to an enormous quantity of fresh water permanently taken out of the system.
Additionally, an estimated 30% to 70% of the fracking fluid will resurface, bringing back with it toxic substances that are naturally present in underground oil and gas deposits, as well as the chemicals used in the fracking fluid. Industry is proposing to store this toxic brew in open evaporation pits until it can be hauled away in tanker trucks to deep injection wells. Spills and leaks throughout this process are inevitable, putting wells, farm ponds, streams, lakes, and aquifers and the people, pets, livestock and wildlife that use them at great risk.
In many areas, after a well has been fracked, people’s well water has become contaminated by chemicals (some even radioactive) that migrate into aquifers through natural fissures and/or possibly through abandoned wells.
Air pollution is also a big problem. Volatile organic compounds from wastewater flowback pits and airborne chemical releases from the equipment involved in the fracking process all add up to a high level of air pollution in many areas.