June 6, 2013
2013 Prize recipient Jonathan Deal is leading a campaign to raise awareness about fracking, especially in places like New York, California and Illinois where fracking interest is on the rise.
Last month, Deal wrapped up a five-week US tour which he spent gathering first-hand information about fracking from industry consultants, politicians, scientists and local citizens from communities where fracking is prevalent.
During his tour, Deal connected with several influential anti-fracking groups, including FrackAction, a grassroots group based in New York.
When the team at FrackAction caught wind of a new Illinois state bill that would open the floodgates for fracking developments around the New Albany Shale–located in southern Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky– they reached out to Deal for help. In turn, Deal put FrackAction in touch with Chicago native and fellow 2013 Goldman Prize recipient, Kimberly Wasserman.
Wasserman and her team at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) jumped right on board, sending letters of appeal to their local and state officials.
If enacted, the bill would open up hundreds of thousands of acres in southern Illinois to natural gas drilling–turning several communities into industrial zones.
Sponsored by Representative John Bradly (D-Marion), the bill has been criticized for leaving southern Illinois residents out of backroom legislative negotiations.
Proponents of the bill claim that it carries with it some of the strictest anti-fracking regulations in the nation, one of which seeks to hold companies liable for contamination in the event of an accident or spill.
However, critics claim that the state is too broke to be able to enforce such regulations, rendering it powerless to stop air and water pollution in the first place. Opponents of the bill also point to the fact that natural gas is still a fossil fuel and is not a long-term solution for our growing energy needs.