PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Planned Protest of Illinois Fracking Project

Published June 23, 2017

On Monday, June 26, a group of anti-energy protesters say they’ll demonstrate against a plan to allow hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas in White County in Southern Illinois. The protest, led by a group called Food & Water Watch, will take place in front of the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

The protesters claim hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes and contaminates groundwater. The Heartland Institute, based in suburban Chicago, has produced a lot of research and commentary showing both claims are not true, including “Energy and Earthquakes in Ohio,” “No, Fracking Isn’t Causing Oklahoma’s Earthquakes,” and “Video: Oklahoma’s Earthquakes Are ‘Unrelated’ to Fracking” by Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr.

Orr has also recorded a series of videos called “Fracking Facts,” and several studies of the science and mechanics of fracking around the country. Orr also presented on hydraulic fracturing to a European audience at the Eleventh International Conference on Climate Change in Essen, Germany in 2015.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“Recent studies from the United States Geological Survey and Duke University have confirmed that hydraulic fracturing does not pollute groundwater in any sort of widespread or systemic manner. Furthermore, an extensive study performed in Colorado showed fracking is not affecting public health because particles emitted from fracking are well below standards deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.

“Regarding radiation, the reason White County has elevated levels of naturally occurring radiation is because of the presence of shale and higher-radiation geology. While flowback water and produced water can contain some of this naturally occurring radioactive material, this water is easily treated and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

“It appears these protesters know little about fracking and are seeking only to frighten their neighbors – although why they’re doing this in Chicago, five hours from their neighbors, is anybody’s guess.”

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“It’s hard to know where to begin in responding to the scare tactics of Food & Water Watch. Since 2010, at least 19 peer-reviewed studies have shown hydraulic fracturing processes do not pose a systemic impact on groundwater. Even the Obama administration’s EPA, which spent more than half a decade and $30 million studying 110,000 different wells, reached the same conclusion. Further, induced seismicity risks are completely overblown, and thanks to mitigation measures are quite rare. USGS estimates the number of people living in an area of significant risk of feeling a tremor has decreased by half in just one year.

“Fracking is environmentally safe and research shows the industry brings large economic benefits to families living in areas where drilling is happening nearby. For White County – where 15 percent of the residents are living below the poverty line and the median household income is under $40,000 – having the fracking industry show up could be the best thing to ever happen to it.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The opposition to fracking in Southern Illinois for oil and gas development is hugely misguided. The state of Illinois has huge financial problems completely due to misguided government policies. The budget deficit is a crisis, long-term pensions are at risk, and economic growth is made much more difficult by a dysfunctional state government. Opposition to fracking could deny the state and its citizens tremendous wealth Illinois needs to set the ship of state on the right course through robust production of oil and natural gas.

“Success in the hydrocarbon production efforts would not only have financial benefits for Illinois, it would also improve the health and well-being of its citizens. Let’s hope the opposition fails and Illinois is successful in developing a vibrant oil and natural gas production platform for the benefit of its citizens and the national economy as well.”

Fred Palmer
Senior Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]