Food & Water Watch has been fighting to keep the fracking industry at bay in order to protect Illinois communities for nearly 5 years. This past year the anti-fracking movement successfully pushed forward a fracking ban in Maryland only to turn around and face proposals to start fracking for the first time in the beautiful state of Illinois. We have had to stave off fracking intentions in Illinois several times before, but this time the industry is targeting a particularly vulnerable area of the state. While we can, and we will if necessary, ban fracking county by county and city by city, statewide bans and ultimately a nationwide ban is the only way we can truly protect our communities from the environmental, public health and economic threats of fracking.
We know exactly what will happen if oil companies bring fracking to Illinois. We’ve seen the trail of devastation they leave behind as they frack Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota. We won’t let Illinois be next on that list.
Peer reviewed, scientific studies have proven time and time again that the process of injecting fluids and hundreds of chemicals into the ground to extract oil and gas is linked to heightened exposure to radioactive elements in nearby communities. White County, Illinois, the spot currently under consideration for fracking, sits atop the New Albany Shale which is known to have naturally high levels of radioactivity. Fracking would accelerate the release and levels of radioactive elements like radon and uranium, posing an incredible public health risk. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers in the United States, killing more than 20,000 Americans each year.
While the exact amount varies, a single fracking well typically requires approximately five million gallons of water for successful extraction. A Ceres report based on industry data found over a third of the wells studied were in regions that “will experience groundwater depletion.” Approximately 65 percent of Southern Illinois is used for agricultural purposes. Fracking in Southern Illinois would therefore pose a risk to the stability of our food system and all Illinoisans that depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
White County is also co-located among most major fault systems in Illinois, along with two primary seismic zones known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. Opening the New Albany Shale up to drilling and fracking would increase the likelihood of increased seismicity, putting millions of people at risk.
Illinois and the surrounding region have faced enough social and environmental strains from petcoke on the Southeast Side, to the destruction of prime farm ground by the Dakota Access pipeline in Central Illinois, to coal mines in the South. Welcoming fracking to Illinois would be a dirty deal in an age where climate change poses the largest environmental threat ever known by humankind. It is not worth the risk.
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