Environmental Activists Protest Fracking in Illinois

Jessica Fujan of Food and Water Watch Illinois addresses demonstrators at anti-fracking rally in Chicago's Loop. (Photo/Emily Brosious)
Jessica Fujan of Food and Water Watch Illinois addresses demonstrators at anti-fracking rally in Chicago’s Loop. (Photo/Emily Brosious)

By Emily Gray Brosious
Originally published at Gapers Block
Oct. 21, 2013

This past Friday, over 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in Chicago’s Loop to protest hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Illinois.

The event was convened by Chicagoland Against Fracking and Chicago Youth Climate Coalitionand was part of The Global Frackdown, a larger movement of anti-fracking demonstrations across the world.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process of extracting natural gas from deep underground that requires pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to break apart the rock and release the gas.

Kevin Brouillette, a Columbia College student, said in an interview that he came to Friday’s demonstration to help shine light on dangerous environmental impacts associated with fracking.

“People don’t really understand the way it can dramatically affect the way they live,” he said.

Aija Nemer-Aanerud, an organizer with IIRON Student Network on hand at Friday’s demonstration, said she thinks fracking would be really bad for Illinois.

“It’s actually shooting chemicals [into the ground] that are toxic for the environment and for people,” she said in an interview.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) says the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HB 2615) is one of the most stringent hydraulic fracturing bills in the nation.

“The Act includes numerous precedent-setting provisions designed to protect against water pollution,” the ELPC said in a statement.

Demonstrators rally against fracking outside the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in Chicago. (Photo/Emily Brosious)
Demonstrators rally against fracking outside the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in Chicago. (Photo/Emily Brosious)

Chicagoland Against Fracking and anti-fracking activists aren’t placated by these assurances. They maintain there is no way to safely regulate fracking as it stands.

“Fracking will only poison our fresh water supply and endanger the health and safety of millions of Illinois citizens,” organizers said in a statement. “Furthermore, it will also continue to exacerbate the global climate crisis due to more carbon emissions and runaway methane gas.”

ProPublica reports that nine out of 10 natural gas well in the United States currently use this process of hydraulic fracturing.

This is worrisome to groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who say that hydraulic fracturing contaminates water supplies, pollutes the air, destroys streams, and devastates landscapes.

“Weak safeguards and inadequate oversight fail to protect our communities from harm by the rapid expansion of fossil fuel production using hydraulic fracturing,” the NRDC said in a statement.

Demonstrators at Friday’s rally called out Marc Miller, director of IDNR, urging him to include Chicagoland Against Fracking and Illinois People’s Action in the process of setting rules for fracking in Illinois.

Organizers also demanded the IDNR refrain from issuing any fracking permits in Illinois because it cannot “safeguard the beauty and health of the State of Illinois”, as is required under state Constitution.

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