Fracking Legislation in Springfield – Where We Stand

Sierra Club is opposed to fracking.  Fracking is devastating to communities and families all over the country — polluting our air and water, and contributing to the destabilization of our climate.

That’s why the Sierra Club supports a moratorium on fracking in Illinois: we want to stop destructive drilling before it can start. Our responsibility is to ensure our representatives take the strongest possible actions to protect our families and the environment.  We stand with Representative Mell, Senator Hunter, Speaker Madigan, and other legislators who have expressed their support for a two-year timeout while we analyze the tremendous risks fracking poses for Illinois.

While we stand with all of those calling for a moratorium, we also acknowledge that, until we pass a moratorium, fracking is legal in Illinois, and may indeed already may be occurring.  HB2615 does not allow or open the door to fracking in Illinois — unfortunately that door is wide open today, and our health and environment are at great risk.  Our pre-World War II Oil and Gas Act is entirely inadequate to protect us from fracking’s many threats, and our Department of Natural Resources has none of the resources needed to oversee this controversial industry.  For these reasons we support The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, HB 2615, which will provide at least some solid measures to protect ourselves from the dangers of fracking.   However, our support for these protections does not mean they give us any confidence that fracking in Illinois can be done safely, or that any regulatory regime could adequately address all of the risks posed by fracking.  On the contrary, we oppose fracking coming to Illinois and continue to build support for a moratorium.

A far safer and better path to job creation and economic development in Illinois is to continue to build our clean energy economy.   We have created over 20,000 jobs in wind and solar energy since Illinois set clean energy targets in 2007, and that is only the beginning of the economic and environmental benefits if we prioritize clean energy.   Conservation efforts can also create jobs and business opportunities while reducing the demand for natural gas, and lower our utility bills.   We urge the General Assembly to approve pending renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to help Illinois take advantage of these opportunities and all the benefits they offer our state.

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11 responses to “Fracking Legislation in Springfield – Where We Stand

  1. Ban, not moratorium. If you are truly against fracking, you would support a ban/criminalization. Instead you are calling for regulation. What happened to the millions that you took from the oil and gas industry? Did you return it?

  2. Sierra Club has distanced itself from environmental protection. You cannot support HB 2615 and support a Moratorium. The only support for a Moratorium is to oppose this bill, which is filled with loopholes and exemptions. National, nonpartisan research is under way now by Geisinger, EPA, and University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with scientists from Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the University of North Carolina. The only rational, conscience-driven response is to reject the bill and wait for scientific results. Perhaps it should be known that Sierra Club accepted $26 millions dollars from the gas giant Chesapeake Energy.

  3. Jack – do you know that there is a 2 year moratorium on fracking, bills in Illinois – HB3086 and SB1418. Will Sierra Club educate us about these options? Are they the alternative to the regulatory bill that we need?

    • Victoria F. Harris

      Then, why did Sierra Club support the bill?
      It’s impossible to be for a moratorium and support that Bill. It is cynical to suggest that it’s going to happen anyway, so that’s the best we can get. That’s a lame and passive way to excuse yourself from demanding your constitutional rights of protection.

      • Hi Victoria,

        As you say, we do want to demand our rights here in Illinois, but currently we don’t have much in the way of protections from fracking in Illinois. What we do have comes from the pre-WWII oil and gas regulations, and in the 1940s hydraulic fracturing didn’t exist yet. We support the moratorium and the regulations as two different ways we can prevent the dangers of fracking—the former will help us gather more scientific evidence and allow a task force to give their recommendations to the legislature in two years, and the latter will give us a legal “floor” with which to hold the oil and gas industry accountable and provide quite a number of protections to air and water that do not exist.

        Supporting both bills is not mutually exclusive, from the standpoint of a representative. If you want to keep up to date with either bill, The Mike Nowak Show page on Facebook is a good place to get news. Either way, please call your rep and let them know what you think about fracking. Moratorium and protections—both are critical ways to fight fracking in Illinois, and every voice counts.

        Thanks,

        Stephanie

  4. I support a total ban on fracking in the State of Illinois. Not much publicity has gone out on this. Just heard about it on WTTW – Chicago Tonight this week. Seems like our legislators think this is going to solve all our problems, but it will only create bigger ones. Also oppose sand mining around Starved Rock State Park. Let’s not destroy our beautiful state.

  5. Leslie Roberts

    Jen Henley of Sierra Club Illinois, having worked on negotiations with the fracking company(s), is too invested in the regulatory bill by and for the industry to see clearly all the weaknesses of HB2615. For example, there is no limit to the amount of water they will poison with toxic & carcinogenic chemicals the industry will use for fracking. Ten of millions of gallons of water are used every time a well is fracked and tens of thousands of wells will be created to frack up to 18 times. Do the math and ask where is the source of all this water which will be denied to the farmers. Another example, the distance of the frackers responsibility for damage caused by them is only 1500 feet from the well, when the horizontal part of fracking can go 10,000 feet. That distance can be under the property of an unsuspecting neighboring land owner with no real recourse. Furthermore, there is no local control to ban fracking and the owners of the surface land has no rights to keep them off their land and protect their property. Moreover, there is no definition of “temporary” regarding the radioactive hazardous waste water poured into plastic lined open pits. If doubling the distance from a home, school, church, etc. fracking is allowed to be done is only 250 feet in other state to 500 feet for Illinois, how deceptive it is to call it the “nation’s best” fracking regulation. Perhaps the Sierra Club should invite fracking to 500 feet of their home, etc. before they claim this is okay for the people of Southern Illinois. The Shawnee National Forest, one of the public lands Obama will sacrifice, will be destroyed with logging to create the huge wellpads and roads for trucks and contaminated. What if one of the well fires or gas explosions that have happened in other states, happens in what will be left of the forest? The nation’s best fracking regulation is only a moratorium/ban. Don’t insult our intelligence. When you send out your letters asking for membership dues or donations, make sure you include the facts about the effects of fracking on public health and the environment. And of course is the big exclusion of information here about the methane gas having to be burnt off at the well sending CO2 into the atmosphere and environmental damage from the thousands of trucks to deliver the toxic chemicals and sand to the wells, and the leakage of methane, a greenhouse gas, with a longer life than CO2, will contribute greatly to global warming and climate change. While this entry is not inclusive of all the weaknesses of the proposed regulation, this is a long because there are so many weaknesses in HR1418 that Sierra Club should be listing for its members and visitors to this website. The text of the bill can be seen at http://www.ilga.gov .These are serious loopholes that make HR2615 unacceptable for protecting anything but the fracking industry’s profits. More info can be found at http://www.dontfractureillinois.net Taking large donations from the drilling company has damaged the credibility of the Sierra Club.

  6. I did not want to comment on the position of the Illinois Chapter Sierra Club in regards to this important issue until I had done my own research. I have come to the conclusion that if passed, HB 2615 would give the fracking industry the certainty it needs to start fracking by imposing extremely weak regulations on a method of extraction that is inherently toxic and polluting. I do not agree with the “weak regulations are better than nothing” argument, and I don’t think a lot of Sierra Club members and supporters do either. I also do not find the “fracking may be happening already” justification to be a compelling reason to open the door wider for the fracking industry. My understanding is that Illinois currently has a de facto moratorium on fracking until the legislature updates the state’s oil and gas laws. I will not only be continuing to urge my representative to ban fracking in Illinois, but to also oppose HB 2615.

    • Hi Espirala,

      Thank you for taking the time to research this issue. I believe I have seen your comments on other blogs, and I appreciate your level-headed review of the situation. I’d like to further clarify some of our positions. The fracking industry has already begun to take out leases in Illinois. Mineral rights are already being leased. And as you have read, fracking is completely legal in our state right now. The industry does NOT have to wait until the legislature updates the state’s oil and gas laws, they have no legal obligation to do so. There is certainly the argument that the industry may not proceed unless they know “where they stand” in terms of regulation. However, we don’t believe that this tenuous “de facto moratorium” will stand year after year until we can pass a real moratorium. If you were a fracking company owner, and you had begun to lease land to frack, and saw piles of money in the earth, would you wait until you were certain you could get it—would you wait until 2014? 2015? 2020?—or would you get impatient and start now? This is the danger we are all facing.

      What HB 2615 will give us is a legal foothold to fight fracking may it come here, and give us protections that other states don’t have. The bill does not have every protection that we want, but it has many protections that we desperately need. Please keep in mind that if 2615 fails, we will have nothing in the way of environmental protections but the hope that the moratorium passes. We won’t have a single one of the regulations that we are attempting to get, and whether you believe that they are weak or strong we will have none of them, and that’s when we will be truly open to harm.

      The argument around the “de facto moratorium” continues. If we can pass the moratorium bill this session, we can wait for more research, we can gather more support against fracking, and we may be better off in two years to act on the information that the committee researchers provide. We certainly hope so. Fracking is a horrible process, dangerous and unwelcome here, and the more people in our state who see that and know that, the better. If we cannot pass the moratorium however, if despite all our efforts and the efforts of other grassroots organizations we don’t get the votes, unlike our attemped moratorium bill in 2012 we may not have the luxury of waiting until next year to try again. We can’t say with certainty that the industry will or won’t start if the regulatory bill passes—and that is an extremely dangerous position for any environmentalist, any resident of Illinois.

      Thank you and please remember to contact your representatives and tell them that you don’t want fracking in Illinois.

      Stephanie

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