MARION — About 30 people packed into state Rep. John Bradley’s Marion office Tuesday to protest what they say is Bradley’s attempt to do an end-run round the state’s rule-making process in regards to hydraulic fracturing.
A similar protest was scheduled at Bradley's Springfield office by those opposed to the plan proposed by Bradley that would prod the stalled process, which began after the governor signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act into law last June.
“It’s been about a year since we passed this bill, with the strongest environmental protections in U.S. history, and the governor signed it, but the rules have not been made and the law not implemented,” Bradley said from Springfield. “This is a jobs bill; it’s about trying to create jobs and opportunity for our area.”
The proposed legislation takes the rule-making process away from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which received more than 30,000 public comments on the proposed rules, and places a moratorium on the controversial oil and gas drilling process in northern Illinois.
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“This is upsetting to me,” Janet Donoghue of Carbondale said during a news conference at Bradley’s office. “Democracy is not being served by ramming through legislation that leaves out tens of thousands of citizens’ voices and renders their valuable time useless,” she said. “Tens of thousands of citizens of Illinois took part in hearings and provided comments on rules that are shaky at best.”
Brent Ritzel of Carbondale said Bradley is attempting to go around the legal process he set into motion a year ago.
“There is absolutely nothing responsible about bypassing state law to circumvent the collective voice of the citizens of Illinois and extra review by the IDNR. There is absolutely nothing responsible about dividing the state of Illinois by providing a moratorium on fracking for Chicagoland, thus acknowledging its imminent danger, while pushing fracking to begin immediately in Southern Illinois,” Ritzel said.“There is absolutely nothing responsible about legally demoting residents of Southern Illinois to second-class citizenship as inhabitants of a resource colony sacrifice zone.”
Ritzel also accused Bradley of catering to his campaign contributors, which he said include those with a vested interest in the oil and gas industry, rather than his constituents.
Bradley said the process involved in crafting the act was open and transparent and included environmental groups, agencies like the EPA, the Attorney General’s Office, and industry representatives.
“No one cay say that this wasn’t a democratic process that reflected the will of the people,” Bradley said. “We made a groundbreaking agreement and the governor signed it. He could have vetoed it, but he signed it and now they won’t file the rules. It’s frustrating. They’ve had plenty of time to get these done.”
The protesters will meet with Bradley next month.
The legislation, passed by the House Executive Committee Tuesday, could be called for a vote in the House this week, Bradley said.
On Twitter: @beckymalkovich