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Quinn Signs Fracking Bill, Activists Arrested At Protest

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 18, 2013 1:30PM

Twenty-two activists were arrested yesterday morning in a sit-in at the State Department offices in the Loop protesting the expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The Chicago Tribune reports the activists were arrested and charged with criminal trespass after blocking the entrance to the Metcalfe Federal Building, which houses state department offices. The pipeline, which has a price tag of $5.3 billion, would take crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada to refineries in Texas.

“This was the first action, our pledge of resistance against Keystone XL,” said Elijah Zarlin of the group CREDO, who helped organize the sit in. The group claims to have more than 62,000 people “pledged to commit peaceful and dignified civil disobedience” against the pipeline. Activists say the pipeline would use more energy than it would create, and cause untold amounts of environmental destruction.

Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill yesterday which would impose some regulations on fracking, which proponents say would create thousands of jobs in Illinois. The bill would require companies who drill for oil using the hydraulic fracturing process to disclose chemicals used in the process and test the water before and after. The Tribune reports the bill would also give citizens the right to appeal permits for fracking and sue if they believe a company violated regulations.

Sen. Michael Frerichs, one of the bill’s sponsors, said:

“We know high-volume fracking is already underway in Illinois, and this legislation is needed more than ever to protect the environment while allowing for job creation and economic growth not just in downstate communities but throughout Illinois.”

Some environmental advocacy groups however, say that the regulations in the bill aren’t enough, and had hoped for a moratorium on the process. “There are serious holes in this bill,” Lora Chamberlain, a member of The Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking, told WBEZ last week. Critics of the bill, including Chamberlain have pointed out that tax rates in Illinois are relatively low, so the revenue collected would be less significant with little going to drilling counties, and the standards regarding the drilling area around water are too lax. While some environmental advocacy groups were consulted in the writing of the legislation, the group Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment told the Tribune the bill was “negotiated behind closed doors, and was not based on scientific study, but rather on the question of what was politically possible, regardless of science.”