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The anti-fracker wonderland

Thursday, May 29, 2014

* Will Reynolds at EcoWatch

Illinois scored a victory this week against an attempt to sacrifice parts of the state to poorly regulated fracking. State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) introduced a bill to cut short the process of writing new regulation while also creating a fracking moratorium only in the Chicagoland area. The response showed that many Illinoisans are still opposed to fracking in our state.

The fracking debate has many southern Illinois residents talking about the region being a sacrifice zone. Like the Hunger Game’s District 12, a sacrifice zone is where people are expected to shrug their shoulders with defeated acceptance as the cycle of boom and bust poverty and destruction continue generation after generation. Southern Illinois is sacrificed to an extraction economy that breeds poverty, offers dangerous jobs with high mortality rates while green jobs are created elsewhere, and exposes the public to deadly pollutants.

That’s some seriously over the top rhetoric, if you ask me. District 12? Really?

* I linked to this story because of what the anti-frackers did after their press conference this week

After the press conference, we held a procession to John Bradley’s office to deliver two Fracking Fighter petitions, the coalition letter to support a fracking ban and a coffin to represent the death sentence he issued against downstate Illinois. Following a die-in, the coffin, tombstone and flowers were left in Bradley’s office.

A photo from Rising Tide Chicago’s Facebook page

* Meanwhile, remember those 35,000 public comments generated on the fracking issue? The strategy behind this flood was laid out last October at Huffington Post by Jeff Biggers, the author of “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland.” Check it out

Over the Next 40 Days, We Need to Bury the IDNR in Comments About the Loophole-Riddled Fracking Rule – And Jump Start the Fracking Moratorium Movement: As Illinois native and renowned scientist Sandra Steingraber has admonished — and done well in New York — the only way to keep Illinois from fast-tracking the incredibly flawed rules into law is to bury the understaffed IDNR officials during the public comment period, who are required to respond. […]

By the end of the week, several citizens groups and environmental organizations, such as Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environmental (SAFE) and the Illinois People’s Action launch a daily comment email alert and website. Contact them or the many other grassroots groups who are working on this effort.

* To give you an example of how paranoid some of these folks can be, check out this section of Biggers HuffPo story…

Is IDNR rigging the fracking deck? On October 25, less than 24 hours after the news media reported that Mitchell Cohen was appointed the Director of IDNR’s Office of Oil and Gas Resource Management, he was huddling at a Holiday Inn in Mount Vernon, Illinois for the Fall Membership meeting of the Illinois Oil & Gas Association.

Wow. An IDNR exec in charge of oil and gas resource management attended an industry function? How horrid.

* Ironically, Cohen was eventually moved out of his IDNR job for some apparent anti-fracking activities

The man overseeing the crafting of rules governing hydraulic fracturing in the state has been pulled from the job, apparently after concerns were raised regarding his views on fracking. […]

No reason was offered for the reassignment but state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said the circulation of a recent presentation given by Cohen in Chicago was the likely cause.

The presentation included lyrics from an anti-fracking song, Phelps said.

“That got a lot of people talking. He told us before that he had to be neutral but his presentation didn’t seem neutral,” Phelps said.


The legislators obtained a copy of the PowerPoint presentation Cohen used in his speech, and it includes the parody songs. The lyrics stated, as an example, that “gone away is the bluebird,” due to fracking.

Another example: “Fire bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, oil is glistening. A terrible sight, the gas drills at night, walking in a fracked-up wonderland.” Also: “We’ll frolic and play when we run them away, walking in a fracked-up wonderland.”

Another lyric took a jab at legislators: “On the first day of Christmas, the Senate brought to me, a half-baked safety guarantee.”

The full presentation is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    Some people want higher energy prices and a lower standard of living for working people. It’s usually a bunch of white elitists promoting this stuff. Not everyone can be Thomas Friedman of the NYT .

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:32 am:

    If nothing else, they get creativity points for the coffin.

  3. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    Both sides of this debate are being ridiculous, which probably means IDNR is right where they need to be.

  4. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:36 am:

    Lost me at Creepy, very organized, infinitely funded group that never intersects with reality.

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    Not expanding fracking in Illinois is indeed good news.

    Now all we need to do is figure out how to put more restrictions on coal mining in Illinois, and limit the damage that does to the environment.

  6. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:43 am:

    Fine. Please, SAFE tell us EXACTLY what design and operational safeguards you want enacted as part of the regulatory process. Hellloooo…anybody there? (sound of crickets)

  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    It is perfectly acceptable for our political system to be hounded by activists, regardless of their positions on an issue. Just as I support those who meet at Tea Party rallies, I support those who do this too.

    Someone just hasn’t convinced these thoughtful people that their fears are unfounded. Their presentation shows more than a little effort which they wouldn’t have done if their fears didn’t motivate them as it seems to have done.

    They mean well. They are wrong, but they have the right to question and criticize our government’s policies and laws. It isn’t anything we can’t handle.

  8. - OneMan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    Well with a name like District 12 it would be a bigger tourist draw than Forgottonia…

    Also I think if you are bringing a coffin to illustrate the death of an entire region of the state it should be a full sized coffin.

  9. - Levi - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    I think it’s good for foreign policy (undermine Putin if we can start exporting), it’s good for prices here, it’s good in the short-term for a southern Illinois economy that has been eviscerated by circumstances over the last two or three decades. When I was a boy in Crawford and Clay Counties, there were good jobs and small-town life really was an idyll. Now, those counties — especially Clay — are a wasteland. Oil jobs have moved out, manufacturing jobs have moved out, small businesses have folded and been replaced by Amazon and Wal-Mart (both of which I shop at, so I’m not casting stones). But people need something to do and some way to make money. The other option is to designate everything between Benton and Springfield as a national park, have the Army Corps of Engineers fence it in, airlift the people out and resettle them in markets with jobs, commerce and access to education, and let the land return to Nature.

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:48 am:

    If Jennifer Lawrence shows up in Southern Illinois, someone give me a heads up. She’s not returning my phone calls.

    It ain’t easy being in Little Egypt sometimes. Some folks want to hold on to killer, some don’t want to risk the next thing.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    On behalf of Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen, I thank EcoWatch for saving Illinois.

    Tris Prior of Divergent is a bit confused since that takes place in Chicago, but if you are going to use hyperbole, go all the way.

    To the Post,

    I have steered clear on the Fracking, reading and learning more as I go, but I guess the big question for me is will the moratorium in the short term election cycle of November be enough sway downstate to impact Quinn/Rauner, measurably?

    Whose “odds be ever be in Quinn’s favor”?

  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:54 am:

    The way things have been heading in Southern Illinois, if this doesn’t happen and jobs don’t come, it’ll become an “EcoWatch” utopia of scarce amounts of people and small towns returning to their natural state.

  13. - Secret Square - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    The deadline for DNR to adopt the fracking rules is Nov. 14 — the 365th day after their initial publication in the Illinois Register. In order to make that deadline, the rules have to be reviewed by JCAR no later than its October meeting. Meanwhile, Election Day is Nov. 4. Any guesses as to when the rules will be filed?

  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    == an extraction economy that breeds poverty==

    Yes, if there’s one thing fracking has proven, it’s that where it takes off poverty takes over. Just look at North Dakota swimming in low paying jobs, if you can find one there, and everyone dying to leave…

  15. - Downstate Illinois - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    These people are loons. They don’t want fracking, coal mining, oil use, or anything that is not green, as if windmills aren’t killing fields and desert solar facilities baking ovens for our avian friends.

    Twice this week I’ve come across the term “extraction resource colony” in connection with Southern Illinois. I don’t think I’ve ever found something more insulting. Apparently we’re the dumb natives too stupid to make decisions for ourselves and we need a bunch of enlightened outsiders to come in and make them for us.

    The trouble is that their enlightenment usually comes from the fragrant burnt aroma of a weed they hope one day to legalize.

  16. - A guy... - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Cue the music…

  17. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Time will tell if the anti-fracking fears are “unfounded”. We can only hope that they are. But it’s way too soon to say that science has reached a firm conclusion on the effects of fracking.

  18. - dupage dan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    === everyone dying to leave ===

    Oh, Prunella. North Dakota - land of low paying jobs, if you can find one there. The internal contradictions are making my head spin. Is that Taz, the devil, behind that anonymous mask?

  19. - dupage dan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    fracking has been used for decades. There are few things left to discover.

  20. - Shark Sandwich - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    If southern Illinois is District 12, then there are towns all over it ready to ‘volunteer as tribute’ to have fracking jobs come in.

  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    –The trouble is that their enlightenment usually comes from the fragrant burnt aroma of a weed they hope one day to legalize.–

    That’s a good idea, too, for a lot of reasons: farming, less criminal justice system costs, put criminals out of business, tax revenue, etc.

  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    ===That’s a good idea, too, for a lot of reasons===


  23. - Going nuclear - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    The anti-fracker wonderland is no different than the climate change denial claptrap. You have ideology-driven agendas on both sides of the energy debate.

    I thought the industry attempt to usurp the rulemaking process was an overreach. DNR can bundle the anti-fracking comments and focus its review on the substantive issues that were raised during the public comment period.

    I don’t see a problem with asking DNR to provide a schedule for completing the process, but let the agency do its job.

  24. - Walker - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Having a lot of fun with their protests, and I am sure Bradley is too.

    Not a lot of strong arguments against the bill which is a good compromise between unregulated fracking, which occurs now, and making it impossible.

  25. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    @dupage dan

    =Oh, Prunella. North Dakota - land of low paying jobs, if you can find one there.=

    Once again, Dan, you show your ignorance of all things economic. NOrth Dakota has the about the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. The Boom in the energy industry there is making real estate prices in some areas about the same as Manhattan. Welders, truck drivers and construction workers are making six figures a year, and they get as much double pay overtime as they can handle.

    If you have skills in the industry, its the place to be. There’s even salary escalation in those “fast food” jobs since there’s such a labor shortage there.

  26. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    –fracking has been used for decades. There are few things left to discover.–

    Not in the way that we’re talking about today. George Mitchell developed more effective and economical methods at the Barnett Shale in North Texas in the late 90s. That’s what revolutionized the industry.

    I’m pretty sure humanity has plenty left to discover and improve. Happens every day.

  27. - Secret Square - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    “Once again, Dan, you show your ignorance of all things economic”

    Bob, I suspect your sarcasm detector might be on the fritz today…

  28. - Really? - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    What’s your point Rich? You think coal made southern Illinois wealthy? Really? No one else thinks so. Another boom and bust extraction cycle is supposed to be any different?

    Do you deny there’s a good old boy network between DNR and the oil and gas industry? Come on. Really? You posted the stories about Mayville and Woods taking contributions from Chris Cline. You forgot? Did you forget how many Reps and Senators demand someone at DNR who promotes oil and coal?

    Do you deny that fracking and coal jobs are dangerous and deadly? Do you deny the mountains of evidence that both release deadly toxins into the environment? It may sound shocking to you Rich, but those are the facts. Southern Illinois is exactly the kind of place the author of Hunger Games had in mind.

    It seems your blog has become an echo chamber for oil/gas lobbyists when it comes to fracking. Everything you write I’ve heard from them before.

  29. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    @ secret square

    =Bob, I suspect your sarcasm detector might be on the fritz today…=

    After reading DDs comment about Reagan accomplishing “little” during his presidency, it was tough to see this comment as being sarcastic.

    There’s so many wacky posts here diverging from factual reality, it’s tough to see when sarc is being employed by some posters.

    Sarc meter repaired and back on line!LOL

  30. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    ===your blog has become an echo chamber for oil/gas lobbyists ===

    I rest my case on the paranoia angle.

  31. - DuPage - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    If Illinois does allow fracking, they should charge a higher severance tax, like other states do. Also, there should be an insurance requirement for supplying clean water indefinitely to everybody if the fracking contaminates aquifers. If insurance companies say fracking near aquifers is too risky to insure, then the state should declare it too risky and draw a map prohibiting fracking in those areas.

  32. - logic not emotion - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    I talked with someone from North Dakota at a meeting I was at in D.C. a couple years ago. They talked about lots of things that could cause issues in southern Illinois.

    For instance, I think they said about all the jobs created and that the local McDonald’s drive through window operator made $18 per hour. True, that might help lessen lines at the unemployment offices and the financially distressed; but… that could really hurt the industries and others down south that depend upon minimum wage workers.

    They talked about the housing shortages. True, that could help with all the vacant, foreclosed houses and closed businesses; but that could spur carpenters and landlords to increase their rates.

    To the environmentalists who live in the big cities and fly or drive all around the state to speak out as a “local” at regional fracking meetings, please, please help keep good paying jobs out of southern Illinois so those people can stay in low paying jobs or unemployment…

  33. - Al Grosboll - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 12:10 pm:

    Rich, thank you for NOT lumping all environmentalists into the same category. The groups that have worked with legislators for strong laws to protect ground water and clean air have conducted themselves professionally and not resorted to the kinds of stunts described in today’s blog.

    The environmental and conservation groups that work every day in Springfield have not tried to interfere with the rulemaking process; rather they have focused on responding with serious, specific language to ensure tough rules that adhere to the agreements reached in last year’s agreement on fracking.

    We respectfully opposed Rep. Bradley bill because it would have reversed agreements made last spring and written rules into the law that were bad for clean water and air. We did not oppose his bill in order to slow down the process or as a defense of IDNR. We will continue to continue to work with the IDNR and the industry to produce a strong set of rules that reflect last year’s fracking legislation.

  34. - OneMan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    Wow, the fracking music stuff was in something with a IDNR logo on it….


  35. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    @Al Grosbell

    =…they have focused on responding with serious, specific language to ensure tough rules…”

    Like what, Al? Baseline and periodic groundwater testing? That’s not a problem. Air emissions montitoring for natural gas? Ditto. Using proper casing techniques on the shafts? No one would disagree with that. What are the “deal breaker” rules that caused this conflict?

    I suspect there’s more of a regulatory delay and nitpick issue in your “tough rules” that have little to do with safety that are causing these problems.

    Please enlighten us on what agreed upon “tough rules” got dumped from your agreement.

  36. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    When you resort to tactics like this it’s tough to take your message seriously.

  37. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Al Grosboll is exactly right. The fact that people like Will Reynolds and the anti-fracking absolutists have always and will always use way over the top rhetoric. But they’re usually wrong. Meanwhile, mainstream enviros like Al and ELPC will be taken seriously as they work to make the rules stronger. IDNR screwed up its rule-making. It needs to be fixed. Bradley just wanted to gut it.

  38. - Environmental Justice - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    Al Grosboll, thanks for illustrating why the Environmental Law & Policy Center has zero presence and a horrible reputation in the southern half of the state. You increase your clout in the statehouse by sacrificing the environment downstate and marginalizing the people you claim to speak for. ELPC pulled the same stunt when you supported a new coal power plant in Taylorville.

    Such statements may temporarily bring you favor with a few fossil fuel industry lobbyists, but those who are actually faced with fracking near their homes laugh at delusional statements about how “tough” and “strong” the fracking law is supposed to be. If you’re not comfortable advocating for the environment, then please find a new employer.

  39. - dave - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    I don’t like a lot of the tactics from the anti-frackers. And I’m most definitely not a fan of coffin actions.

    But the 35,000 JCAR comments are actually kind of brilliant. As a grassroots movement with little real political power, they are using perfectly legitimate process methods to slow things down.

    No one really complains when large, politically powerful groups are able to amend a bill in the last week, have posting requirements waived, etc. That, one could argue, is equally as much of an abuse of process as the 35,000 comments are. But both are legitimate, and I don’t really have any problems with either one.

  40. - S.E. Illinois - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    This is the first piece that I have seen which points out the fact that the 35,000 comments received by IDNR were not from 35,000 unique individuals.

    It has been more credibly estimated that there were approximately 300 individuals involved in the enviros efforts to flood IDNR with comments prior to the cutoff date for these comments.

    The members of these groups are few. They are full of zeal, however. I look at their Facebook pages quite a bit and see a lot of wacko assertions and a number of very interesting links (including Earth First! and other extreme groups).

  41. - Walker - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 3:13 pm:

    No matter where I started, I respect the tough compromises made on tough issues, (concealed carry, pensions, Medicaid reform, fracking) and support the resulting bills as better than endless conflict, posturing, or stalemate.

    I’d do the same with a budget compromise, but one side is not yet participating.

  42. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    “Also, there should be an insurance requirement for supplying clean water indefinitely to everybody if the fracking contaminates aquifers. If insurance companies say fracking near aquifers is too risky to insure, then the state should declare it too risky and draw a map prohibiting fracking in those areas.”

    That’s nonsense. No insurance company is going to be willing to be on the hook for ‘indefinitely’, and what is your definition of ‘clean water’? That seems to constantly be subject to interpretation by different groups. Nobody is ever going to insure against a constantly changing target.

    IMO, just another attempt to get a never ending moratorium.

  43. - in absentia - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    District 12! Nonsense. From Duke University:

  44. - Hamilton - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    I’m still scratching my head. What, again, did Rep. Bradley gained from introducing this bill?

  45. - Hamilton - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    I’m still scratching my head. What, again, did Rep. Bradley gain from introducing this bill?

  46. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 6:07 pm:

    @EJ,I see the same pattern with ELPC and other groups who vehemently organize opposition to highway projects like the Illiana Expressway near Chicago, but are nowhere to be heard while 4 lane highways are being cut across farm fields all over southern and western Illinois.

  47. - Al Grosboll - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 6:30 pm:

    I also see that Mr. or Ms. “Environmental Justice” has jumped in to criticize me and others who have tried to protect citizens and the environment. I suppose the point is that I am not “green” enough. I take great issue with this attack from a person who uses anonymity to hide.

    I always use my real name on Cap Fax because I am not ashamed of what I do or what I say. I have spent 40 years working on many public policy issues and much of that has been spent on conservation, environment and clean energy issues.

    As for ELPC and my work there, I am proud that we fought long and hard for the state’s Renewable Energy Standard. That took Illinois from having zero wind turbines in Illinois to nearly 3000.

    I am proud of ELPC’s work passing legislation adopting the international Energy Efficiency Standards for Illinois - saving consumers money and reducing energy demand.

    I could go on and list hundreds of successful endeavors in which I have worked with ELPC or public officials to create a cleaner, healthier Illinois. If the person operating as “Environmental Justice” wants to come out from hiding and tells us their accomplishments then maybe we can compare records.

  48. - anonymous - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:02 am:

    What is the point of this post, of Phelps’ action, or of Bradley’s . . . most recent legislative proposal? 30,000 public comments dumped on the DNR just for the purpose of slowing the process seems to make a mockery of the process. It also seems that everyone agrees, the DNR has work to do. Poking around DNR business Phelps or proposing ridiculous legislation Bradley probably slows DNR’s ability to finish the rules. Is that your agenda? Or do you and other legislator’s have a different agenda?

  49. - Keyser Soze - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    For a good example of public comment slamming go to:

    It amounts to signing a petition by way of many postcards. The IPCB handled it well in the example. IDNR, not so well.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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