Voters in Johnson County, Illinois will have a chance to voice their opinions about hydraulic fracturing at the ballot box.
A group of Johnson County citizens submitted 1,001 signature to county officials on Thursday to put a non-binding resolution on the March 18 primary ballot that asks if fracking should be banned within the county. They only needed to gather 374.
Tony Gerard lives near Wildcat Bluff in rural Johnson County. He said the petition is the first volley in what he thinks will be a long battle against the controversial oil and gas mining technique.
“We’ve got a lot of common folks up against a multi-zillion dollar corporation with an army of lawyers,” Gerard said. “So can we hope to prevail? I don’t know, against all that money and all that expertise at legal maneuvering. But for the sake of my kids, I’ve got to try.”
Kris Pirmann owns and operates a vegetable farm near Tunnel Hill. He said the people who live in Johnson County should have a say about what happens there.
“The revenue might not always be local. The jobs might not always be local. But you can’t get away from the fact that the pollution and environmental impact are always local. And they’re always going to impact directly the community where those actions take place,” Pirmann said.
Even though the resolution is non-binding, fracking opponents hope a win at the ballot box will compel the county commission to ban the practice.