Illinois county votes against curbs on fracking

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Voters in Johnson County, Ill., on Tuesday voted against an attempt to stop hydraulic fracturing in the county.

The fracking question was a nonbinding referendum, meaning the vote serves only as a recommendation to the county's three commissioners on whether they should support fracking.

About 58 percent voted against commissioners opposing any effort to begin fracking in the county. About 42 percent voted in favor of fracking opposition.

There are 8,452 registered voters in Johnson County, according to Robin Harper-Whitehead, Johnson County clerk/recorder. A total of 3,825 votes were cast in 16 precincts.

One county commissioner was pleased with the outcome.

"There was a lot at stake with this proposition. Had it passed, it would have threatened jobs, diminished farming, and tied our county into expensive legal knots," said county commissioner Ernie Henshaw.

A law that allows hydraulic fracturing in Illinois was passed by the state legislature last year.

Fracking involves pumping a mixture of fluid and sand into the earth at pressures high enough to create fissures in rock. Proppants, such as sand, hold open cracks in a formation so the gas or oil can be pumped from above.

Proponents of fracking say it could stimulate the economy by bringing jobs and money into Southern Illinois. Fracking opponents cite risks to the public health and the environment, including groundwater.

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