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Paducah, KY Channel 6 TV Covers Carbondale Rally

CARBONDALE, Il.—There is a debate raging across the country over a relatively new way to drill for natural gas.  It’s called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”  It promises to bring new jobs,  a cleaner energy source,  all while reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign energy.

Sounds like a win-win, except critics say the process endangers the one resource we absolutely can’t live without; water.

This is how fracking works: crews dig a well, first vertically, then horizontally through  rock into what are called shale formations. A perforating gun fires, creating holes in the metal piping and through the rock. Then a mixture of sand, water, and chemicals is pumped in at high pressure, expanding the cracks. The liquid is removed but the sand remains in the cracks, propping them open.

That allows natural gas to flow to the surface and be captured. The methods been used for years in a handful of states, and natural gas companies now have their eyes on Southern Illinois.  Tuesday, a group of people against fracking rallied in Carbondale to get your attention.

Right now, it’s up to the states to regulate fracking.  There are four bills in Springfield that would put regulations in place, but most of the people in this group don’t want fracking at all.  Tuesday they used some rather funny costumes to convey a serious message on a Carbondale corner that was sure to catch your eye.

“We’ve had a lot of people honking,” one protester said.

Young and old alike were there to make one message clear.

“We’re questioning the safety of fracking, and we want answers and we want our Illinois government to step up, and step up for public health instead of corporate wealth,” an unidentified anti-fracking demonstrator said.

She wore a gas mask and wouldn’t give her name, but says she represents every Southern Illinois family.

“My well water is at stake, I have a home, I have two kids and I have a well,” she said.

This group is mainly concerned about the chemicals used during fracking, potential groundwater contamination, and the lack of regulation.

Professor of Environmental Resources at S.I.U. Carbondale, Doctor Christopher Lant said under current state law, drilling companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals used.

“Right now no one quite knows what chemicals they’re using in the fracturing fluid,” Lant said.

And he said there are no fracking rules on the books.

“In Springfield, have to deal with, what are going to be the rules of the road in regulating shale gas in Illinois,”  Lant said.

Most of these people don’t want regulation, they want fracking in Illinois stopped before it ever starts.

“We need to have control over our community, we need to have control over our families, we need to have some say over our health,” the protest or said.

Of the four bills in Springfield, one of them puts a two year hold on fracking in Illinois, giving lawmakers time to learn about the process and implement new rules before the companies start drilling.

Dr. Lant says all the fracking regulation up to the states.

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