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FRACKING

Bill Rau, professor emeritus from Illinois State University, speaks about dangers of fracking Friday, March 1, 2013 at the Carbondale Civic Center. The event included several speakers and was organized by Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment. (Codell Rodriguez / The Southern)

CARBONDALE — An event organized by Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE) focused on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing in the region.

The meeting took place Friday in Carbondale Civic Center and included presentations from activists from the region and one from Wisconsin. Many of the presentations focused on the dangers to ground water and hazards that come from fracking in an area with an active fault line.

William Rau, professor emeritus from Illinois State University, said seismologists are predicting the next big earthquake will be in Illinois and the combination of the New Madrid Fault with polluted water stored underground equals a recipe for disaster.

“You can probably kiss all of your ground water goodbye in this area,” Rau said.

Steve Horn, research fellow for DeSmogBlog out of Madison, Wis., talked about the regulatory sys-tem being rigged and being out for the best interest of corporations and not the environment. He suggested that if a fracking moratorium bill does not pass in the Illinois legislature, people should turn to actions such as nonviolent civil disobedience and turning to city governments to halt fracturing. He mentioned that Woodstock, N.Y., banned fracking.

Mount Vernon attorney Vito Mastrangelo said fossil fuels are linked to climate change and urged people to change the way they think about energy usage. He urged those in attendance to write to legislators and editorial boards and to attend lobby day March 12 in Spring-field.

Carbondale attorney Rich Fedder said the regularory bill for Illinois is not the most restrictive in the country, despite claims, and that there is no reason to jump into fracking before the completion of a major study by the Environmental Protection Agency examining the safety of the process.

“Don’t start before you know what you’re doing,” Fedder said.

Kyna Legner, field director with Energy in Depth, a research and public education program from the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said via email that much of the worry is unwarranted.

“The rest of Illinois is interested in progress, so it’s really unfortunate that SAFE and its allies are working overtime to try and stop it,” Legner said.

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