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Representative speaks out about fracking; County Board to attend seminar

By Mona Sandefur

Feb. 21, 2013 9:23 am

  1. FRANKLIN COUNTY  —  Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker reminded board members of the March 4 seminar on hydraulic fracturing being held in Springfield before members heard from opposition to proposed legislation.

Chuck Paprocki, a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE), expressed concern about horizontal fracking saying it has been set up in other states with serious consequences.

He asked the county board to have a say as he distributed copies of letters on the issues facing property owners and communities, and copies of letters to the Attorney General that addresses local control by counties.

Paprocki said all language regarding local control by counties has been eliminated from a regulatory bill.

He encouraged county board members to write to the Attorney General to ensure that local control language would be put back in the bill.

Paprocki said the oil and gas industry is fighting to prevent local control. He asked members to consider the ramifications of industry as water is removed from the land where fracking occurs. Paprocki said this places extreme demand on local water supplies and negatively impacts local residents’ access to water.

He said SAFE has been shut out of meetings in Springfield and their voices are not being heard. Paprocki said with horizontal fracking there is no way to control the amount of water being used adding the wastewater will be placed in tanks and open pits. He said the agricultural industry would be competing for clean water.

Paprocki explained that hydraulic fracturing or fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack open thick rock formations and release trapped oil and gas.

Combined with horizontal drilling, it allows access of formerly out-of-reach deposits. Paprocki said the horizontal drilling can extend a mile or more under property adding the force has created earthquakes in other states.

He said the process contaminates the water supply, and the air from emissions of well sites, processing equipment, waste pits, diesel engines as the oil and gas are moved, and silica from frac sand.

“Historically, residents have gotten sick from exposure to these airborne substances around high-volume fracking and processing,” he said.

The Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium announced legislation last week, Senate Bill 1418, that seeks to impose a moratorium on the drilling process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in Illinois, according to The Illinois Observer.

Paprocki posed questions about how property owners would be compensated for a loss in property values and if local medical services are prepared to handle the health effects from exposure to fracking chemicals and contaminants from the shale.

On the flip side, a pro-fracking group named GROW-IL (Growing Resources and Opportunity for the Workforce in Illinois) coalition says fracking is about jobs. According to The Illinois Observer, this group is piloted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, Illinois AFL-CIO and the Illinois Petroleum Council.

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