Some Johnson County Illinois residents are asking their county commissioners to consider supporting a 2-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” as oil and gas companies continue to look at southern Illinois land for extraction.
Johnson County Economic Development Director Ronald Duncan said if fracking begins it could bring some money the county’s way.
“If we take examples of the economic impact that it’s had in other places,” he said.” I’m thinking specifically of southeastern Ohio, the Dakotas. You see this very, very strong impact up front. A lot of people coming to town, a lot of trucks, a lot of lunches sold at the counter. Just the sheer number of people doing that work coming in perhaps could boost the retail trade here in our community significantly.”
Regulations for the extraction process currently sit in the General Assembly. Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment’s Annette McMichael said those regulations are currently stuck in committee, but added the bill will probably pass before the assembly lets out in May.
“So that’s sort of the green light,” she said. “So it depends on whether or not the bill passes. If the bill passes I would say fracking could begin in the area, maybe not Johnson County, but certainly some other counties in southern Illinois by the middle of June.”
McMichael says SAFE’s concerns include a higher likelihood of earthquakes and water pollution. Fracking proponents say southern Illinois needs an influx of jobs, especially since Tamms prison, one of the largest employers in the area, closed earlier this year.
An open forum with SAFE and gas and oil industry representatives is tonight at Goreville High School.