Public voices concern over proposed fracking regulations


It's called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The drilling method extracts natural gas from underground shale rock layers, but proposed fracking regulations met opposition Tuesday night.

When Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation earlier this year approving fracking, it was believed the state could have some of the strictest regulations in the country. But since the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has proposed rules, people disagree.

People sang a fracking Christmas carole outside of the public hearing, "Don't you worry you'll get used to that smell, and the poison spreading all around."  It was a full house at Decatur's Civic Center.  The IDNR listened to a concerned public about changes they'd like to see to proposed fracking regulations. People recommended altering the regulation process and changing enforcement standards like stricter financial penalties when rules are broken. People came from as far as Bloomington to voice their safety and health concerns. One woman who has lived in Decatur for 50 years said she does not want fracking anywhere near her home. She called fracking "a dirty business."

"There is nothing safe, there is nothing healthy about fracking," said Verlyn Rosenberger with Illinois People's Action. "They use millions of gallons of water to do the fracking mixed with chemicals that are secret."

"The benefits of hydraulic fracturing is that it is a new form of energy production, it will help create jobs in the state," explained Tim Schweizer a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  "If it's done properly by the book, by the regulations, it should be environmentally safe."

Rosenberger said she had two friends in Decatur who have been approached by fracking companies to lease land, but the IDNR said it has not received any applications for those interested in fracking in Macon County.

This was four of five public hearings. The next and last hearing is Thursday at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Comments can also be submitted online at until January 3.

By law the DNR has to consider every comment made online or in a public hearing. It is up to them to determine whether it's appropriate to change the proposed rules.

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