Johnson County, Illinois residents sound off on fracking for natural gas and oil


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

GOREVILLE, Ill. - Unlocking a natural resource and jobs, or protecting the environment? That is a huge debate across Southern Illinois.

People in Johnson County sounded off about the pros and cons of fracking on Wednesday night at a Goreville town hall meeting.

Fracking is a method used to extract petroleum and natural gas from shale thousands of feet underground.

A bill placing a moratorium on fracking is currently stalled in the state legislature, and the session ends this month.

If the moratorium fails, counties will be allowed to decided whether to allow fracking.

Jack Stewart owns 150 acres in Johnson County.

"Rolling hillside and I'm not a farmer I just got a lot of food plots for the wildlife," said Stewart.

He has plenty of friends who have signed their minerals away to energy companies.

"Money talks," said Stewart.

But he has too many unanswered questions to agree to that.

"I wont sign up. I just don't believe in it," said Stewart.

His concerns are environmental.

"Where are they gonna get all the water? This is a drought stricken area last year," said Stewart.

Richard Fedder is an anti-fracking activist. He says the water issue is the strongest argument against it.

"There's not going to be one well, or two wells, or five wells.  There's going to be 10,000 wells and 10,000 wells times five million gallons, that's a lot of water," said Fedder.

David Higgins, who buys and leases for energy companies, says the positives outweigh the negatives.

"There's the economic benefits. There's the fact that we're using energy that has a lot of environmental regulation and oversight and everything. As opposed to getting energy from oversees," said Higgins.

He says he has gone back to towns he has worked in and experienced first hand the benefits that fracking had in the communities.

"You could see the communities were on the up and up," said Higgins.

Higgins encourages all landowners to do their research.

He says he is convinced that facts will change their minds.