Despite losing in the polls, Johnson County’s anti-fracking activists will push on with their campaign to ensure high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is banned in the area.
A referendum held earlier on March saw 60 percent of local voters reject the proposal to ban fracking. However, Annette McMichael of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) said the “news wasn’t all bad”.
“I know it sounds like spin but it means about 42 percent of the voters don’t want fracking in Johnson County,” she said, according to The Southern. “I’m convinced if not for the media blackout, we would have been well over 50 percent.”
She said local newspapers refused to advertise anti-fracking on the build-up to the polls.
“That hurt us tremendously. The opposition was in the newspaper but we weren’t given that opportunity,” she said.
However, Johnson County Commissioner Ernie Henshaw viewed things differently. He said that if a referendum attracts 50 percent of the vote, it is a solid gauge of what people are thinking and hence the vote reflected their will.
Henshaw disclosed that he had tried to obtain the county board’s permission to form a fracking oversight committee that would collect views from all people, including those with divergent opinions. He said the outcry from anti-fracking advocates prompted him to do away with the proposal, something he will consider restarting afresh now that voters voiced their opinion.
“I don’t want us to be ill-prepared. We don’t solve anything and we do a disservice if we wait for it to be here,” he said. “We need to address these issues before it happens, if it even does happen.”
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