Illinois People’s Action
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process of injecting sand, water, and chemicals at a high pressure and volume deep underground into shale rock has long been a controversial topic in Illinois. Illinois People’s Action (IPA) believes that fracking, even with stringent regulations, is unsafe and a threat to public health, natural resources, and ecosystems. Because fracking sites are commonly placed near low-income communities, poor and vulnerable people are most at risk for suffering from water pollution, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and other environmental risks associated with fracking.
When the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was tasked to write and enforce legislation that would allow fracking to take place in the state, IPA organized a massive campaign to give the public a voice in the rule-writing process. IPA brought over 400 people to public hearings regarding the fracking rules. Illinois law allowed a window of time (over the Christmas holiday) where the public could submit their own opinions about the proposed rules. IPA responded to this opportunity with an online comment campaign. Each day for 50 days, IPA sent suggested topics to members, inviting them to submit comments which expressed their concerns and asked specific questions about the regulations. By the end of the comment period, IPA members had written 36,000 comments! The state agency was required to respond to every single comment, creating a 450 day de facto moratorium on fracking.
Although hydraulic fracturing is now legally permissible in Illinois, IPA continues to organize its efforts to engage community participation in promoting a healthy, clean energy environment. IPA plans to organize around October 14th, the National Day of Action on Climate Change, to advocate for a clean energy power plant in Illinois. Don Carlson, the Executive Director of Illinois People’s Action, stated that the support of the CCHD allows “community organizations that are on the ground to make change happen” in the work for justice, equity, and accountability. Illinois People’s Action is composed of 40 faith-based members groups whose leaders “each bring their own lens but everyone is on the same page,” that God made the earth to be enjoyed by all and preserved for all.