Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a highly controversial practice across the country. Illinois has regulations in place to limit the practice; however, environmentalists are concerned that a loophole allows fracking to take place using a number of creative drilling techniques. Citizens in Illinois are speaking out to prevent the potential contamination of their drinking water.
Fracking involves injecting water or other fluids under pressure into underground rock formations to fracture the rock, allowing for increased extraction of oil and natural gas. Proponents of the practice say it will increase economic activity and create new jobs. However, opponents say the practice will contaminate groundwater and lead to earthquakes.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), wastewater disposal associated with the fracking process is the primary cause of the recent increase in earthquakes in the central U.S. In Oklahoma, where fracking is prevalent, the state used to average 24 earthquakes per year of magnitude 3.0 and higher. However, in the past few years, that number has increased to 193 earthquakes per year.
Illinois has regulations to limit the use of hydraulic fracturing when 80,000 or more gallons of fluid is injected into oil and gas wells. However, some say drillers could still use gas, foam, or gel to fracture the rock without triggering the fracking regulations. “These large-scale gas and foam frack jobs could be exempt from the new rules,” said a coalition of environmental groups in a letter to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.”
Last summer, an environmental group held a music festival to raise awareness and protest fracking in southern Illinois. The Frack Free Fest was held at Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass, sponsored by Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE). Representatives of SAFE said fracking could harm the environment, make well water undrinkable, and hurt the tourism industry.
One festival attendant with experience working in the petroleum industry was out in support of SAFE against fracking. Sam Stearns worked in oil fields in the 1980s, “I know what sort of damage drilling does to the environment and the devastation that it leaves in the communities once the boom is over.”
Residents in Grayville, near the southern Illinois border with Indiana, are complaining about water contamination after a recent drilling operation. People have complained of the water turning “a funky color,” and a boil order was issued by the city. The owner of the company behind the well says fracking was not the cause of contamination. The town's mayor blamed the water contamination on old water pipes and an electrical glitch that allowed the water tanks to run dry. However, residents are still concerned about the hazardous impacts of fracking.
If you are concerned that fracking or other forms of pollution are putting your and your family at risk of health problems, you should speak with an experienced attorney who understands your rights. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients the justice they deserve and get equal treatment under the law. Contact our office today.