Sierra Club is opposed to fracking in Illinois, and for a year has been working to build support for a 2-year moratorium on the dangerous practice of injecting large volumes of water containing toxic chemicals deep into the earth to release deposits of oil and gas. We have seen the damage fracking has done in other states, and are gravely concerned about what its impacts on Illinois’ communities and environment will be. We are especially vulnerable to fracking in Illinois, since our existing oil and gas regulations, written before World War II, are entirely inadequate to protect us, and because fracking is legal today.
In fact, we know now that fracking is already occurring, that more dangerous projects are on the way, and that hundreds of thousands of acres have already been leased for fracking. Sierra Club believes strongly that a two-year moratorium on fracking is the safest and best approach for Illinois. A timeout would allow us to learn more about the experiences in other states, to better assess the inadequacies of our existing laws, and to learn from a major national environmental study on the technology due out in 2014. That is why we support House Bill 3086 and Senate Bill 1418, and urge the General Assembly to put them to a vote. The moratorium proposals have attracted growing support, and they deserve a vote.
Today the Illinois House passed SB1715, the Horizontal High Volume Fracturing Regulatory Act. SB1715 does make significant improvements in our existing oil and gas laws, and will ban some of the practices that have caused major problems in other states. However, the passage of SB1715 does not mean that fracking can be done safely and it does not make fracking acceptable. We believe that a moratorium is still the safest and best approach. The passage of SB1715 and the news that fracking is already underway in Illinois will only further highlight the dangerous health, environment and climate risks and build further support for a moratorium on fracking. We will continue our work to build support for a timeout on this dangerous practice.