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Fracking concerns ... Volker wants locals to be aware

Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 4:33 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, April 1, 2013 5:19 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — Bureau County Board member Loretta Volker is concerned about fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of underground shale rock and the regulations monitoring the activity.

Volker said she recently attended a seminar in Springfield sponsored by the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners to discuss the practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or oil production, commonly called “fracking.” The purpose of the seminar was to discuss specific county concerns and advise local officials on the development of regulations governing fracking.

When she arrived at the informational meeting, there were picketers who were concerned about the environmental concerns of fracking, which is a concern she shares, Volker said.

There is currently a House bill dealing with the regulation of fracking, but the legislation does not address local authority, Volker said. A similar bill was passed by the Senate last year.

Unlike some counties, Bureau County does have its own zoning policies in place, which is a good thing, Volker said. However, she is concerned that any statewide legislation may override local authority, she added.

Fracking, as she has learned, is not anything new, but has been around since before the 1950s. Today’s hydraulic fracturing is achieved by pumping water mixed with sand and chemicals through a well into rock that holds a carbon fuel, such as natural gas or oil. The water creates pressure and fractures the rock or opens up pre-existing cracks so the gas and/or oil can be extracted. The boring goes straight down hundreds of feet and then branches our horizontally.

The horizontal outreach of the boring could reach miles and miles away from the boring site itself, Volker said. In addition to any potential air or water pollution from the fracking practice, there are other concerns, such as the disturbance of the earth and potential earthquakes, the storage of slurry liquid use in fracking and also potential road damage in bringing in the needed equipment.

Though fracking is found primarily in the southern portion of the state, Volker said there is a small section of land in the central Illinois area which has seen fracking. She will talk with the Bureau County state’s attorney to see if anything further needs to be done in Bureau County to safeguard the health of its residents. She encouraged local residents to become aware of fracking, monitor the news about the practice and contact their legislators with any questions.

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