Fracking Bill Triggers Rift Among Illinois Green Groups

Grassroots activists say they feel ‘betrayed’ by mainstream environmental organizations that helped write the state’s new fracking regulations.

By Katherine Bagley

Mainstream environmental groups in Illinois celebrated last month after state lawmakers approved a bill regulating fracking—a bill the environmental groups themselves had helped write in a unique collaboration with the fossil fuel industry and politicians.

Local grassroots groups, however, want fracking in Illinois stopped altogether, not simply regulated with legislation. They are not only protesting the law, but also their one-time allies.

"A lot of people feel betrayed and sold out," said Sandra Steingraber, an environmental health expert and Illinois native who has joined the anti-fracking grassroots campaign. For years, the grassroots groups had worked with mainstream organizations to persuade legislators to institute a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, she said. "Without consulting the grassroots, these compromise-oriented [mainstream] groups seemingly dropped the joint fight for a moratorium in favor of regulation written behind closed doors … They were negotiating on our behalf without our permission."


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