April 18, 2013

Hydraulic fracturing discussion is April 26

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Proposed legislation to allow hydraulic fracturing in Illinois and its impact on the region is the focus of a public forum next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Advocates and opponents will participate in the discussion at 7 p.m., April 26, in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.  The event is free, and the public is welcome to attend.

Organizers say the forum will provide a full spectrum of information on issues involved in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  The forum is particularly pertinent to local officials, area residents and students as the legislation is currently under consideration in the Illinois General Assembly.  The SIU Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program is hosting the forum.

“It is a core principle of public administration to positively engage the community,” said Randolph Burnside, associate professor in political science and MPA Program director. “This forum will provide community members and our students who are training to serve Southern Illinois communities with both sides of an important public policy issue that will have a long term impact on the Southern Illinois region.”

The audience will have an opportunity to submit questions to the panel before the forum begins.

Hydraulic fracturing involves a high-pressure mix of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals to break rock formations to then release oil and natural gas.  Opponents, however, express environmental and health concerns about the effects the process can have on ground water, air quality and surface contamination.

Dan Eichholz, associate director of the Illinois Petroleum Council and graduate of the University’s MPA program; Travis Akin with the Grow Illinois Coalition, a coalition of business, labor, construction, transportation, mining, and agriculture organizations, and Brad Richards, a geologist with the Illinois Oil and Gas Association, will provide information in support of fracking.   Presenting information opposing the mining process and representing the “Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment” (SAFE) will be Chuck Paprocki, a volunteer coordinator, and Richard Fedder, an attorney who volunteers his time with the organization.

A question-and-answer session follows the presentations, with Dhitinut Ratnapradipa, an associate professor in the Department of Health Education and Recreation and Patricia Ross McCubbin, a professor at the SIU School of Law participating.

The Southern Illinois Mayors Association (SIMA) is providing support for the forum, but the organization has not taken a position on fracking.

“This will be a very important forum, and I strongly encourage all mayors in Southern Illinois to attend so they can find out more information on this issue,” said Grayville Mayor and SIMA President Joe Bisch.

The nationally accredited SIU Masters of Public Administration Program provides concentrations in aviation administration, museum administration and nonprofit management.  Since 1974, it has trained students in the development of skills and techniques managers need to implement policies, projects, and programs that resolve important societal problems while addressing organizational, human resource and budgetary challenges.

Established in 1975, the Southern Illinois Mayors’ Association promotes cooperation among area communities in solving common problems and provides a unified voice to promote the region’s municipal interests in the state capital. Currently, more than 100 mayors and village presidents are SIMA members.

For more information, contact Charles DiStefano, a doctoral student who is also working as a graduate assistant in the University’s MPA program and SIMA Secretariat at simasec@gmail.com or 618/453-3175.