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Setting the Record Straight on HF in Illinois

With an unemployment rate (9.1 percent) well above the national average, and a government in Springfield suffering from major deficits (the “worst in the nation” according to the state’s auditor), Illinoisans are hungry for economic growth. And thanks to the New Albany shale in the southern portion of the state, companies have been investing heavily in the Land of Lincoln, a trend that most of us want to continue. But for a marginal few, the need to spread fear and misinformation about proven technologies like hydraulic fracturing is unfortunately a higher priority.

Today, EID helped set the record straight with a column in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier — from clearing up misconceptions about hydraulic fracturing to highlighting the enormous economic potential that safe shale development holds. For those of you outside Illinois: no, we’re not talking about Jacksonville, Florida. We’re talking about a city in west central Illinois that just happens to have the oldest continuously circulated newspaper in the state.

Here are some excerpts from the column:

  • “Critics claim that hydraulic fracturing contaminates groundwater. Yet after being used more than 1.2 million times since the 1940s, there has not been a single confirmed case of contamination. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said recently, ‘In no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.’ State regulators across the country have also affirmed that hydraulic fracturing does not contaminate water supplies.”
  • “Critics frequently cite benzene emissions as a way to instill fear in the public. However, it is not the presence of the compound that is cause for alarm, but rather the level of exposure. Regulators have consistently determined that benzene levels in and around oil and gas development are well below thresholds that would trigger public health concerns. A comprehensive study for the city of Fort Worth found ‘no evidence’ of levels that would trigger health problems. Pennsylvania regulators examining Marcellus Shale developments reached similar conclusions.”
  • “What about earthquakes? Both the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Research Council have concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not pose a serious risk of earthquakes. A geologist with USGS has even publicly criticized the media for suggesting the link exists.”
  • “A study from the University of Texas at San Antonio shows that the Eagle Ford shale supported 47,000 jobs in 2011, worth more than $3 billion in salaries and benefits. The Eagle Ford also added more than $257 million in new revenue to local governments, funding public services like schools, hospitals, and emergency services.”
  • “Could Illinois replicate this success? We’re not sure yet. The New Albany shale is in its infancy, and industry is still determining its viability. But as communities and landowners consider the possibility of oil and gas development, and as landowners discuss any potential impacts from hydraulic fracturing, we should all insist on a discussion based on the facts.”

You can read the entire piece at the Journal-Courier, but a subscription is required.

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