The passionate push to save Illinois from poorly regulated fracking continued at the state Capitol Wednesday.
Internationally recognized ecologist and Living Downstream author Sandra Steingraber made a return trip to her native central Illinois to support the push for a public, science-based examination of fracking.
After meeting with an aide to Governor Pat Quinn who worked on the inadequate fracking regulatory bill, Sandra Steingraber and author Jeff Biggers spoke to Illinois residents feverishly pushing for a moratorium on fracking during the final days of the legislative session.
Sandra Steingraber referenced several recent scientific studies, and others which will soon be published, about the deadly public health and environmental consequences of fracking. The studies tackle issues that haven't been discussed in public hearings because the legislature waited until the final weeks of their session to rush through a regulatory bill negotiated in private.
Steingraber noted that Natural Resources Defense Council has used the anecdote of a single fracking well operating in Illinois as an argument for passing a pro-fracking regulatory bill. She called the news a distraction and responded, "from my perspective, that's like discovering a rapist in the community and deciding that we need a law mandating that all those planning to commit sexual assault must wear condoms."
After speeches from Steingraber, Jeff Biggers, southern Illinois resident Tabitha Tripp, and Springfield resident Melody Lamar, a group of those lobbying and sitting-in for a fracking moratorium marched to Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office for an animated discussion with members of her staff who negotiated the regulatory compromise. The group delivered letters from Pennsylvania residents about the devastating harm done to their state, despite claims that regulation would protect them.
Documentary filmmaker Ben Evans, who was previously in Springfield to speak at a screening of his film YERT, was on hand to film the events. I'll shortly post more videos, links and details about events yesterday and today.
Faced with outraged reactions from their members, environmental groups advocating for inadequate regulation claim they also continue supporting a moratorium. Yet, their signing off on the regulatory bill has allowed politicians and industry representatives to portray it as strong and environmentally safe. In fact, even environmental groups supporting it admit the proposed regulations will not protect Illinoisans.
Support by a few national groups for the regulatory bill has left the overwhelming majority of environmentalists in regions threatened by fracking feeling marginalized and undermined by some of their own leaders. Quinn, Madigan, and legislators should be aware that the support of environmental staff in the statehouse will not shield them from an angry backlash by citizens opposed to rushed fracking rules. Steingraber and local activists pledged that this is only the start of an escalating movement to protect Illinois.
Find ongoing updates at my blog as the fight continues.