Video: A fracking fight heats up in Southern Illinois
by Mitchell Wenkus
Towards the southern tip of Illinois near the Indiana and Kentucky borders is a place called Crossville. It sits in White County. Besides the navigational direction, what differentiates it from Northern Illinois are its rolling hills, culture, and natural resources: mainly coal and oil.
Crossvilles city logo has emblems of the three staples of its economy: farming, coal, and oil. Industrialized fossil fuel extraction has been happening in this part of the state way before my grandfather moved to Chicago to work in thestockyards.Crossville's logo says a lot about life in Southern Illinois, where extractive industries have been a part of life for generations. A few days ago, Johnson County, which is just two counties over from White County, voted 58% against a referendum to ban fracking. Its frustrating to hear fracking could happen in my home state. But what really gets me is that outside interests, namely companies from out of state who are looking to make a buck, engaged in a huge misinformation campaign that divided the community before the vote. That vote came because of fears overa new new type of fossil fuel extraction on Southern Illinois' horizon: high volume horizontal fracturing, commonly known as fracking. It's different from the conventional kind of vertical fracking, which has been used in Illinois for decades. This is a point of confusion for both pro and anti fracking people. Horizontal frackinguses millions of gallons of water, goes horizontally underneath peoples property, and creates more air pollution. People like former oil worker Steve Combs are on the front lines of the tests fields for horizontal fracturing. I made a short film about Steve, and I think it really shows the human side behind all the arguing and back and forth. High Volume Horizontal Fracturinguses huge amounts of water,and almost all of it needs to be disposed of somewhere.A waste water disposal well from regular oil production has already polluted Steve Combs well. Whats to happen once there is exponentially more waste water to dispose of? And there are so many other concerns when it comes to fracking:
- Reports continuously come in of new drinking water and groundwater contamination from fracking, despite what industry says.
- Disposal of fracking waste water is causing earthquakes. Oklahoma has had a dramatic increase in earthquakes due to waste water injection wells. In Southern Illinois, there is fracking proposed on the The New Madrid Seismic Zone and the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone.
- Fracking wells cause air pollution. Many people around the country are concerned about the health effects.
- And anyway, it's crazy to be doubling down on a fossil fuel infrastructure when clean renewables like solar and wind could be a reality right now.