Johnson County voters to decide whether to ban hydraulic fracturing

Mar 13, 2014

A ballot measure before voters in far-southern Johnson County seeks to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But, as IPR'S Hannah Meisel reports, some advocates worry the proposal’s wording has the potential to confuse voters.

As it’s stated on the ballot, voters can vote yes or no in response to the following question:

“Shall the people’s right to local self-government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health, safety, and a clean environment?”

That’s Annette McMichael with Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment. The group led the charge to put the question on the March 18th primary ballot. McMichael says activists have been going door-to-door, preparing voters for what she says is the question's tricky language. Whatever voters decide, the referendum is non-binding.

Already, at least one power company has leased 200 properties in the county for fracking purposes – some of which are residential properties, like McMichael’s neighbors. She's worried courts will eventually force many more residents to lease their land for fracking, so companies have continuous areas for the extraction process. She says a successful ballot initiative would be the first step in a legal counter move.

Proponents of fracking say once it begins, it will boost employment in Southern Illinois.