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William C. Rau
The Illinois Fracking Regulatory Bill (SB1715) has been praised as a "national model." It is a model all right—for the oil industry. And the exact opposite for citizens. Here's why.
Article XI of the Illinois State Constitution guarantees a healthful environment and empowers citizens to sue governmental or private parties that sully that right. There's one crucial caveat; the General Assembly can write regulations to supersede Article XI. This is what the fracking bill does; it helps protect oil and gas companies from lawsuits. In industry parlance, it gives them "regulatory certainty." Rather than protect citizens, regulatory certainty provides oil and gas companies with rights to "toxic trespass" on private property.
Would you let a neighbor come up to your property line and throw toxic garbage over your fence? You would not, and neither would anyone, anywhere.
Yet, this bill grants oil and gas companies exactly that right. They can pollute our air, poison our water, contaminate our soil, increase our body's burden of carcinogens and toxic chemicals, and destroy the value of our property. Yet, there are substantially reduced chances for compensatory damages if the Illinois constitutional guarantee to unfettered legal proceedings against environmental polluters is compromised by its General Assembly.
Oil and gas companies will be "following the law" when they trespass toxically. They can trespass physically, too, through the forced pooling clause in the Illinois Oil and Gas Act. When the majority of acreage in a designated hydrocarbon pool falls under an oil or gas lease, non-consenting owners are forced into the pool. Access road and well pads can be placed on their land and non-consenting landowners face arrest if they try to prevent physical trespass on their own land. In the Land of Lincoln, oil and gas companies can extirpate citizens' life, liberty and property rights in the U.S. Constitution.
As part of this industry-friendly package, the bill gives legal standing to cost-cutting but unsafe and unhealthful practices. Loopholes allow flaring of natural gas, use of frack pits to store toxic drill cuttings and larger pits to store "unexpected" amounts of toxic flowback water. Setbacks between well pads and homes, schools, churches and public water sources are grossly inadequate. Extreme chemicals, such as 2-butoxyethanol and dibromoacetonitrile, are allowed as frack fluids, and oil or gas brine will not be tested for radioactivity, toxicity or salt content.
The bill contains no worker safety provisions even though the fatality rate among oil and gas field workers is seven times higher than all industries. Workers receive zero protection under this AFL-CIO sponsored legislation.
The bill also sets a new standard for corporate giveaways. There is a "tax holiday" on the first two years of oil and gas production. Fracked wells deplete rapidly with at least half of the oil and gas produced in 24 months. As a result, the Illinois tax rate will be about half North Dakota's even though Illinois oil will be far more profitable: much lighter (premium to WTI benchmark), closer to the surface (reduced drilling costs) and much closer to refineries and big markets, along with existing pipelines (significantly reduced transportation costs). Masters of fiscal irresponsibility, Springfield politicians intend to solve the state's revenue problems with a multibillion dollar corporate welfare scheme.
Another example: well plugging and cleanup bonds are so low that companies will forfeit bonds with taxpayers footing the cleanup costs. The first out-of-state company publicizing its fracking Illinois plans will drill 156 wells. Since bonds are capped at $500,000 per company, and since plugging and cleanup costs for 156 wells will run about $4 million, guess what? The $500,000 will be left as a tightwad's tip on the way out of town. Taxpayers will foot the $4 million tab. Multiply this case by the number of wells drilled in Illinois and we have another multibillion dollar giveaway.
Finally, even if we had faintly decent regulations—rather than a loophole-ridden, oil company giveaway—regulatory agencies in Illinois have been disemboweled. Budget and staff reductions have cut so deep that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources resemble two Humpty Dumpties who have been thrown off a regulatory wall. It will be very difficult to put these agencies back together again—and definitely not in time to assemble enough trained and experienced staff to enforce regulations.
In sum, we get industry-friendly "regulations" that will not even be enforced and a pseudo-revenue bill that rewards wealthy oil companies and penalizes taxpayers while citizens lose a constitutional liberty.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
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