December 27, 2013

If Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn had been home to look out his front window on Monday afternoon, he might have seen four elves dressed in green smocks and some in red leggings erecting a mock oil drill on the lawn of his Northwest Side home.

The "elves" -- activists with the climate activism group Rising Tide Chicago -- delivered a red bow-adorned mock drilling rig to his lawn "because if Gov. Quinn and the other people that have opened up our state to fracking had to live next to fracking and had to obtain their water from a well I think they would not bring fracking to our state," said Mike Durshmid of the group.

The roughly 10-foot oil drill, made of PVC pipe and painted black, wasn't noticed on the quiet street until about 1 p.m., according to Chicago police.

Illinois State Police, who provide security for the governor, and the Chicago Police Department's bomb and arson unit initially treated the incident as a "suspicious package," operating cautiously around it. But the activists from Rising Tide issued a news release claiming credit for the early Christmas gift, saying it was a protest against Quinn and others opening Illinois to hydraulic fracturing.

Reading a statement from Gov. Quinn's lawn, one elf said, "Santa has closely been watching how the threat of hydraulic fracturing or fracking has become closer and closer to reality in Illinois."

Water supplies across the country have been contaminated by fracking. There have been multiple documented cases where natural gas, or methane, has migrated out of wells and into underground aquifers. The fracking process also forces gallons of chemically-treated watered into the ground along with numerous byproducts including chemicals, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs), dissolved solids, liquid hydrocarbons including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, and heavy metals.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources held its last public hearing on "proposed regulations to implement provisions of the state’s new Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act" last week in Carbondale, and the hearing was dominated by anti-fracking voices.

“We just can’t afford to allow the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, and must find a way to live that does not put continued economic growth above preserving a habitable planet. For this reason we must stop fracking from starting in Illinois and also work to make larger systematic changes” said Angie Viands of Rising Tide Chicago.

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