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Fracking Moratorium Bills Introduced in Illinois

Energy
Fracking Moratorium Bills Introduced in Illinois

Environment Illinois

On March 13, one day after nearly a hundred concerned citizens converged on Springfield, Illinois to call for a moratorium on fracking, House Speaker Mike Madigan announced his support for legislation to stop the dirty drilling technique in Illinois.

HB 3086 in the House (sponsored by Rep. Deb Mell) and SB 1418 (sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter) each call for a moratorium on fracking in Illinois, and are scheduled for committee hearings in Springfield.

“In state after state, fracking has been a rolling environmental disaster—contaminating drinking water, making nearby residents sick and turning rural landscapes into industrial zones,” said Bruce Ratain, state policy associate for Environment Illinois. “We praise Speaker Madigan for looking carefully at the facts about fracking, and joining the growing call to keep it out of Illinois.”

Liz Patula, a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE), had the following response: "I said it yesterday in the Capitol and I will say it again today: New York’s Assembly just voted to extend its moratorium on fracking. Don't the citizens of Illinois deserve the same protection?"

While in Springfield, activists also held a rally and press conference in the Capitol rotunda, and delivered materials or met with every legislator in the House and Senate.

"Today Speaker Madigan has shown the kind of wise leadership that we went to Springfield yesterday to see,” said Dr. Lora Chamberlain, of the Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking (ICMF). “ICMF, SAFE, Illinois People's Action and Environment Illinois went yesterday, with over 100 Illinois citizens, to ask our Illinois lawmakers to do exactly what the Speaker did today. Keep Illinois SAFE by supporting a moratorium on fracking and slowing down fracking. We thank Sen. Hunter and Rep. Mell for their leadership, and applaud Speaker Madigan for listening to the concerned citizens of Illinois.”

The toll of fracking has been extensively documented by Environment Illinois’ sister organization in Pennsylvania, where gas drilling has run rampant. The groups’ report In the Shadow of the Marcellus Boom documents leaks, spills, well blowouts, and other pollution from gas drilling operations. Residents living on the frontlines of fracking have told their stories in Penn Environment’s Marcellus Shale Stories video.  

Moreover, a forthcoming study from University of Colorado School of Public Health concludes that living within a half a mile of gas drilling operations is associated with a wide range of serious health risks.

Speaker Madigan’s announcement comes as other state legislatures are also moving to halt or restrict fracking. New York’s Assembly approved a fracking moratorium last week, and new anti-fracking measures have been introduced in other states this year as well.

“For Illinois’ water, air and land, the best protection against fracking is no fracking at all, and we are excited to have Speaker Madigan stand with us,” said Ratain. “Now it’s time for legislators to follow the leadership of Speaker Madigan, Sen. Hunter and Rep. Mell and pass legislation to keep Illinois free from fracking.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

 

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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