With the State Senate set to vote on a bill regulating fracking on Thursday, opponents say they’ll continue an occupation of Governor Quinn’s office  into a third day, demanding he meet with residents of areas that would be affected.
Two activists have been arrested in the sit-in.
The occupation will continue Thursday, said Angie Viands of Rising Tide Chicago , who was arrested Tuesday evening when she refused to leave. The protestors want a moratorium on fracking in Illinois.
On Friday, Illinois Peoples Action  will hold an demonstration in support of a moratorium.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, blasts millions of gallons of water laced with sand and toxic chemicals into underground layers of shale to release natural gas.
The regulatory bill was negotiated by mainstream environmental groups and gas companies, brought together by Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The environmental groups maintain fracking is inevitable in Illinois, and say the bill contains strong protections.
The backroom dealing shut out the communities that will be affected, opponents say. They call for a legislative task force that would hear from environmental and health scientists and hold hearings around the state.
The bill does contain extensive regulation of drilling processes, according to an analysis by William Rau of IPA. But it requires very limited disclosure of toxic chemicals, including carcinogens; no limits on water withdrawals from rivers and lakes; no limits on fracking in seismically active areas; and no provisions for testing or storing radioactive waste water.
It leaves the bulk of cleanup costs to the state, and taxes drilling companies at rates far below other states, according to Rau.
He calls it “a loophole-ridden bill granting regulatory protection to a polluting industry,” and adds, “Rather than best practices, this is a ‘where’s the beef’ bill.”
Viands said the bill bars counties from banning fracking. She said four downstate counties — Pope, Hardin, Union, and Jackson — have voted for a moratorium, and a fifth, Jackson County, is likely to join them soon.
Quinn has backed the regulatory bill, arguing the fracking would create jobs.
Viands said the jobs created by fracking are temporary and highly dangerous — and most of them would go to out-of-state workers.
“Instead of hydraulic fracturing, which is unsafe, temporary and a source of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases, we should be making our communities more secure by focusing on creating local clean energy solutions that are climate friendly and don’t pollute our precious fresh water,” she said.