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Fracking too complex for rush to approval

The Southern May 01, 2013 1:00 am  •  Joy Ramsey

“Let’s trust them (Big Oil) to do right by their neighbors.” This is what U.S. Rep. John Shimkus wants us to do. Well, it’s my land they may frack, and they give me no reason to trust them. We witness spill after spill like in the Gulf of Mexico by BP, and in Arkansas most recently in the little town of Mayflower. Ask the people of Mayflower if they trust the job Big Oil has done there. They don’t believe them when they say the oil hasn’t gotten to the Arkansas River. A lot of locals think a cover-up is going on.

Fracking, as we know it today, has not been around for decades. Horizontal fracking started in Pennsylvania in 2002. In 2005, the “Cheney Loophole” was created which exempted fracking from the Federal EPA Clean Water Act. No other energy extraction, that I know of, has been exempted from Federal regulation. The Cheney Loophole should be repealed to bring fracking under federal regulation. Big Oil wants to frack in the Shawnee National Forest. That seems inconceivable to me that the president would let that happen. The Shawnee belongs to the American public to be preserved for generations to come.

Fracking is a dangerous technology which will not employ thousands of local people. That is an inflated number that the politicians are using to lure the public into thinking this is the best thing to ever happen to Southern Illinois. Most of the jobs are personnel who will come with the fracking company. The depletion of our drinking water should be a concern to everyone. Will they use our biggest body of water and the source of our drinking water, Rend Lake? If the New Albany Shale Region is fracked, that is 10,000 wells. That would deplete Rend Lake 18 times. It takes 4 million gallons of water to frack one well, one time; 72 million gallons of water total for one well. Big Oil will use over 600 cancerous chemicals to frack each well plus special sand they will take from Starved Rock State Park and destroy that park in the excavation. And where will they store this hazardous waste water? Is that in Rep. John Bradley’s very strict regulations bill? I think they’ll drill a hole in the ground on site, and put the waste water below the aquifer, and hope it stays there.

Most experts agree that fracking should never take place in an earthquake fault area. We sit on the Wabash Valley Fault line. The Cottage Grove Fault Line was discovered in 1968 after we experienced that 5.6 earthquake. That fault is just a couple of miles south of where I live. Fracking has caused earthquakes in Oklahoma and other states, and we are long overdue. If we have an earthquake after these poisonous chemicals have been placed in the ground, they will be released in our groundwater. No one will ever live in this area again. It will be like Love Canal.

Statistically speaking, at one in three wells, there will be an accident. This deadly cocktail of sand, water and chemicals will spill on the surface of the ground from a leak, or worse, a complete blowout. Unless there is a well-casing standard, this concrete casing may not stand up to the thousands of pounds of pressure per inch. Overtime, concrete cracks. The casing needs to last forever to protect the aquifer. My husband and I own our gas and oil rights. We do not intend to sign the lease for any amount of money. We don’t want our land, wildlife, and our own health exposed to these dangerous chemicals and the methane that escapes into the air every time a well is fracked. My husband talked with an official at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at his Springfield office. They were having a civil conversation until he said to my husband, “We will force you to sign a lease, you better get a lawyer.” His assistant told me, when I called back the next day, that he was probably referring to “forced integration.” I guess it is similar to eminent domain. It’s for the profit of Big Oil, the state and politicians.

Fracking makes the landscape ugly. They need a pad for each well and clear the surrounding area to make room for it. Fracking means a caravan of trucks coming down our road every day, all day long. No more peace and quiet. I’d rather have Big Oil buy my property now. I won’t be able to live here or to sell it after they leave.

Let’s not be fooled by the politicians and Big Oil. Our home, our environment, our water and wildlife are at stake. We need a moratorium to study the facts, and let the experts give their opinions. A disaster is waiting to happen if we don’t slow down and do this right. The gas and oil isn’t going anywhere. It can wait while the study is completed by the Federal EPA. This is my home, my family. It’s your home, too. Please ask Rep. Bradley and Sen. Forby for a Moratorium on Fracking. Pause don’t trust Big Oil to “do right by their neighbors.”

Joy Ramsey of rural Williamson County is a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment. She is a retired real estate broker and secretary.


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