Stop Fracking In Illinois

Do you have some spare time over the holiday weekend? If you live in Illinois, I encourage you to spend that time talking to your state reps or taking a field trip to Springfield. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day than by participating in the democratic process and doing what you can to protect the people of Illinois from fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. 'fracking', is a method used to extract natural gas by injecting a slurry of water, sand, and toxic chemicals into the ground at high pressure. There's already significant research on fracking indicating the many negative environmental, health, and economic impacts. The main purpose of bringing fracking to our region would be to benefit fossil fuel companies at the expense of local workers, local families, the local economy, local waters and lands, and the global climate. Therefore, like many people of conscience, I support a moratorium on fracking and encourage you to do the same.

A 1-2 year moratorium will allow the people of Illinois more time to review the evidence. It will also allow time for scientists in related fields to complete further research that is already underway. Even if you personally are not yet convinced that fracking is as risky as the activists say it is, this will give you more time to do your own research, hear from environmental groups, hear from scientists, and consider alternatives that can bring jobs to our region without as much risk to our health or our local waters and lands.

If you've been following the issue, you may have been confused or misled by the fact that some environmental groups actually supported this regulatory bill. The Illinois Environmental Council and almost all of their member organizations initially supported the bill because they believed that fracking was inevitable and wanted to be sure that there was at least some form of regulation.

However, their support for this bill is a green light to the fracking industry. So far, this form of fracking hasn't come to Illinois because there is no clear regulation governing how it can legally be conducted. The bill currently under discussion would provide regulation which is in many ways very favorable to the fossil fuel industry, thus inviting them to begin fracking as soon as possible.

Luckily, support for the bill is eroding. Grassroots groups like Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAVE) already oppose the bill. Activists like Sandra Steingraber have presented strong arguments against the bill. I've also heard early reports from my activist friends currently in Springfield that the Sierra Club and the National Resource Defense Council have withdrawn their support for the bill, instead favoring a moratorium. Hopefully, other organizations will follow suit.

Regardless of what the "Big Green" groups do, the choice is ultimately in your hands. If you live in Illinois, your representatives in state government are there to serve your interests and respond to your concerns. If you have concerns about fracking, let your representatives know by giving them a call, sending them an email, visiting them in Springfield, or all of the above.

If they don't hear from us, or only hear from a few of us, they will assume that this isn't an important issue for the people of Illinois. But if they suddenly hear from a lot of us, they will know our concerns and may even respond to them, if only to save face.

If you live in Southern Illinois and support a moratorium, it's especially important for you to contact your representatives. Proponents of fracking claim that everyone in Southern Illinois is in favor of fracking because it will (supposedly) provide jobs. That is simply not true. There are many people in Southern Illinois who care more about the health and well-being of their families and neighbors than they do about empty promises from fossil fuel companies.

Tell the folks in Springfield that you support a moratorium. Call your state representative and senator at 217-782-2000. If you want to go the extra mile, there are also a few other people in state government you can contact:

  • Speaker Madigan 217-782-5350
  • Senate President Cullerton 217-782-2728
  • Governor Quinn 312-814-2121 or 217-782-0244
  • Attorney General Lisa Madigan 312-814-3000 or 217-782-1090

Let them know that you support a moratorium. By supporting a moratorium, you will be protecting the health and well-being of families and communities in Southern Illinois. To me, that seems like a very fitting way to spend your Memorial Day weekend.

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Change is here!

Change is here! My novel is now available to the public. If you're going to be in Carbondale tonight (May 8), you're welcome to join us at the Change Release Party at 7 pm at Gaia House Interfaith Center. There will also be a book signing at The Bookworm on May 25 at 1 pm.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this day possible! If you want to help Change be a success, spread the word. Also, if you buy your copy online, be sure to post a review once you've read the novel. Those reviews and ratings really do make a difference in people's choice to read and buy the book. Thanks in advance for your support!

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30 Days Until Change

As of today, there are only 30 days left until my novel is published! Change will be available in both digital and paperback editions. Over the next 30 days, you can either come here or visit Change on Facebook for updates on where to buy the novel, book signings, special events, and more. Change is coming soon!

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Forward on Climate

On February 17, I attended the largest climate change rally in U.S. history. Approximately 40,000 to 50,000 people gathered in Washington D.C. for the Forward on Climate rally and march. I was very excited and honored to travel with a small group of people from Southern Illinois to speak out on behalf of all of the people who couldn't be there. Together with over 40,000 other people from many places and backgrounds, we raised our voices to say no to Keystone XL and yes to action on climate change.

The rally and march were an amazing experience. I've been to a few marches in DC before, so it wasn't an entirely new experience. Even so, something about the far-reaching implications of climate change and the impassioned speeches by climate change activists really made me feel like I was taking part in an important moment in history.

There were several times when I was moved to tears, both while listening to the speakers and while reflecting on the issue during the march. At the end of the day, I felt very excited and satisfied about how many of us had marched together on that day, and very encouraged at the thought of how many more people were back at home cheering us on and calling for action right along with us. In the midst of the day's inspirations and successes, however, I also felt a sobering sense of just how much work we have ahead of us and just how high the stakes are in this struggle.

We are engaged in a struggle for the future of humanity. We are engaged in a struggle for the continued existence of an Earth that is habitable for life as we know it. Yes, life will surely go on in some form regardless of the choices we make today. But if we choose poorly, dramatic shifts in climate will lead to massive droughts, floods, collapses of entire societies, and collapses of the most basic ecological systems that support the many communities of megaflora and megafauna that currently grace this beautiful planet with their presence. The consequences of these societal and climactic instabilities may render the world of a hundred years from now nearly unrecognizeable, and none too pleasant for any humans still around to witness it.

Is this the gift that we want to give to our children and our children's children? Is this how the story of millions of years of co-evolution in an incredibly rich tapestry of biodiversity will end for the majority of species that call this planet home? Do we really want to squander so much for so little when other options are available to us?

Responding to climate change often reminds me of the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. The basic premise is that the Galactic Empire is about to collapse and a group of people start a Foundation to respond to that collapse. They realize that collapse is inevitable, but through their efforts hope to dramatically reduce the incredibly long period of suffering and chaos that will result from the collapse of the Empire.

Given what we know about climate change, I feel like we're in a similar situation. The damage is done; even if we stop 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions today, there will still be dramatic consequences, perhaps even catastrophic consequences,from our past emissions. If we continue on our current course of increasing rather than decreasing fossil fuel use, we will surely encounter catastrophes by the end of this century that will cause tremendous ecological harm and test the stability of societies around the world.

It's easy to look at that picture and get discouraged. But you know what? I'm done being discouraged. There's no point in being discouraged. Human beings are creative, passionate, amazing creatures with tremendous potential to reshape their reality in accordance with their will. Right now, we're all tangled up in a big messy nightmare that's leading us to bing on fossil fuels and go on a destructive rampage that's threatening to render our planet virtually uninhabitable. But on a smaller scale, in the hearts and minds of many individuals, groups, and communities, I have seen wondrous potentials for healing changes that could set all of this right and create an amazing world if only we would let them.

To make a long story short, this trip inspired me. Where there's life, there's hope. So let's stop pretending that we have no power and start acting like we have the power to create a better world. Because we do. Take action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and do whatever it takes to create a more socially just and environmentally sustinable world.

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My name is Treesong. I'm a father, author, talk radio host, and Real Life Superhero. I live in Carbondale, Southern Illinois. I write novels, short stories, and poetry, mostly about the climate.

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