Another Tiny Rally Highlights Desperation for Illinois Anti-Fracking Groups

The Illinois anti-fracking movement intended to put on a show Wednesday, but was forced to settle for a small and ineffective sideshow.

Carrying a 15-foot caricature of Gov. Pat Quinn (D) into the Crowne Plaza hotel in Springfield – where Quinn was attending a Democratic Party brunch in conjunction with Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair – chants of “anti-frackers are in town, Gov. Quinn come on down” and “Gov. Quinn you can’t hide” were designed to get a reaction from the state’s chief executive.


Anti-fracking activists present a caricature of Governor Pat Quinn at a Springfield rally on August 13, 2014.

Instead, their exploits resulted in a police escort out of the hotel lobby and nary a mention from the governor during his speech. Their plan didn’t work, and for good reason: We’ve seen this show before, and the story is getting old.

The mainstream debate on hydraulic fracturing in Illinois was settled months ago, with factions from all sides – the Sierra Club included – compromising on what is widely believed to the toughest set of regulations in the country.

The Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act passed overwhelmingly by a 160-12 vote in the Illinois Legislature.

Coincidentally, that’s also why chants of, “Show me what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like” sound quite silly when applied to a law that was democratically passed by such a wide margin and with such strong bipartisan support.

The protesters’ targeting of Quinn also seems odd, considering he oversees the agency that has, thus far, taken 423 days to write rules for the fracturing legislation.


A small crowd of anti-fracking activists entered the Crowne Plaza hotel in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. They were soon ushered out by police.

Quinn is apparently okay with the IDNR taking its time – far too much time, according to a wide spectrum of supporters, including labor leaders – to address issues the activists seem so concerned about. Which is why some believe the protesters are targeting one of their few allies.

“They are not getting their point across, no,” fair-goer and Democrat supporter Sandy Herald of Jacksonville told WICS-TV when asked if the protest at the fairgrounds was effective. “These are people who came from the governor’s brunch. They’re Democrats. These guys are protesting against the Democrats.”

The protesters’ shenanigans continued Thursday with an “informational vigil” during Republican Day festivities at the state fairgrounds. It’s hard to imagine that they would believe they could receive a warmer welcome there.

In the meantime, IDNR director Marc Miller is assuring everyone that his agency continues to work diligently on completing the rule-writing process.

“The law is the law,” Miller told a reporter from the Quad City Times Springfield bureau. “Our job at the agency is to follow the law and implement the law. That’s what we have to do.”

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