Over the course of the public comment period on the IDNR's administrative rules on fracking, I've made numerous comments online, either through the IDNR comment form or through ProtectILFromFracking.org. The following is a copy of my spoken comments at the IDNR hearing on December 19, 2013 at the Student Center in Carbondale, IL. I also submitted a written copy of my comments at the hearing.
The IDNR has been given an impossible task: the task of making fracking safe. Many of us in this room are also facing what seems like an impossible task: the task of convincing the IDNR that the proposed rules are broken.
As representatives of the IDNR, you have been tasked with promoting public safety for present and future generations. Fracking poses an imminent threat to the health and safety of people I know personally right here in Southern Illinois. It also poses a threat to many of our livelihoods that are derived from agricultural and recreational uses of the natural riches and wonders of Southern Illinois. Your proposed rules are woefully inadequate to protect my friends and neighbors from poisoned wells, poisoned farms, poisoned air, and the many other environmental and social hazards associated with fracking.
I’ve submitted numerous comments about the details of these administrative rules. The take home message, however, is this: fracking is not safe and cannot be made safe by a haphazard set of rules with no real budget or plan for enforcement. A certain percentage of these fracking wells will fail. Once that contamination has been unleashed, there’s no taking it back. Present and future generations will suffer for it.
The proposed administrative rules place the people of Illinois — my beloved friends and neighbors — in grave danger. As public servants dedicated to the stated mission of the IDNR, I urge you to take whatever actions necessary to ensure that fracking does not come to Southern Illinois. That may involve declaring that there is no current technology for safe fracking in Illinois, publicly calling for a ban, or resigning your posts in protest of the impossible task you’ve been given. Whatever it takes, I urge you to do everything in your power to stop this dangerous industry from coming to Southern Illinois.
Having said that, I must admit that I am also realist and know that you will probably not do any of those things. If you do not heed our comments, then it is we, the people of Illinois, who must take up the mission you have abandoned. In the end, it is we, the people, who must protect ourselves, our communities, and our land from the menace of fracking. And so, I urge my fellow Illinoisans to join me in resisting fracking in Southern Illinois. Resist with your comments, resist with your letters, resist with your voices. And if fracking does come to our region, resist with your bodies in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. If the IDNR does not do its duty to protect the public, it is up to us to do so. I hope and pray that it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, I will be there, and I ask you to join me. Thank you.