From WILL - News Local/State -

Meeting On Hydraulic Fracturing Attracts Hundreds In Decatur

Bill Poorman of Morton, Ill. speaks on Dec. 17, 2013 in Decatur during a forum organized by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on proposed rules for high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

Bill Poorman of Morton, Ill. speaks on Dec. 17, 2013 in Decatur during a forum organized by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources on proposed rules for high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing. (Sean Powers/WILL)

Hundreds of people voiced their concerns about the process known as fracking during a meeting on Tuesday night in Decatur.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reviewing new rules for high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing, and it is asking the public for feedback.

Many of the people who packed into the Decatur Civic Center were bused in by Illinois People's Action, a group that opposes fracking. Group member Bill Poorman lives right outside of Peoria, and he said the state’s fracking regulations need to include stricter penalties for companies that break the rules.

“If we want enforcement to matter at all, we must make it more expensive to break the law than it is to follow it,” Poorman said. “We have got to punch them in the profit margin.”

Others expressed concerns about the lack of local control in issuing permits, the dangers of chemicals used in the fracking process, and the heavy use of local water.

Ron Wojtanowski lives in the Bloomington-Normal area, and he blasted the department for not doing enough research before drafting its rules.

“If the governor and legislature were sincere about having the strictest rules in the nation, then (the Illinois Department of Natural Resources) violated their trust by drafting some of the weakest,” Wojtanowski said. “Again and again these rules pose significant hazard to public health, aquatic life, wildlife, and the environment.”

The vast majority of those who spoke Tuesday in Decatur oppose fracking.

Sherry Procarione lives right outside of Decatur. She was the only person to speak in support of fracking, and she said there is no need for additional rules.

“Here in Macon County, we have the highest unemployment rate in the state of Illinois,” Procarione said. “I think it sounds really reasonable to me for some folks if they want to make a private contract to do so.”

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it’ll likely revise its proposed regulations based on what it hears from the public.

The last of these meetings is Thursday in Carbondale, but the public can continue to comment online until Jan. 3.

Categories: Environment, Government, Health