Applause grew loud when the Jackson County Board voted Thursday to oppose hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the injection of water at an extremely high pressure into deep wells, which releases gas pockets trapped within shale formations.
At a July 24 meeting, the county board’s land use and economic development committee said the board would return to consider four fracking options: to ban the process, allow it with no regulation, support a moratorium on the process or seek Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s opinion on the county’s ability to enact fracking legislation other than through zoning — which the county does not have.
The board voted unanimously in favor of supporting a moratorium on the process, which is something board member and Dan Bost said he would like to clear up.
The Jackson County Board is a government organization that only gets attention when something controversial comes its way, board member Will Stephens said.
Stephens was proved right when about half of the audience left after the vote.
“We voted for something that hasn’t come to law yet,” he said. “A moratorium wouldn’t ban something that’s already existing. We just voted in support of a ban in Jackson County if one ever comes to law.”
Bost said there’s been a non-hydraulic type of fracking happening in the state since the 1950s .
“The fracking that the board is discussing is this new type of major hydraulic fracturing,” he said. “And that’s what’s causing all the fuss.”
North America’s abundant supply of natural gas has brought overwhelming attention to one part of the development process — hydraulic fracturing, said Jack Overstreet, the manager for Next Energy, a Colorado-based company that secures leases for oil and gas.
“The technology has the potential to dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign fuel imports,” he said. “It also could significantly reduce our national carbon dioxide emissions.”
Board member John Rendleman said he believed the science against fracking and what it would do to the groundwater supply was too clear. He said he voted for the moratorium to ensure the health and safety of citizens throughout Jackson County.
Though some believe using chemicals and water to liberate gas would pose little risk to drinking water supplies near the surface, the Jackson County Board members thought otherwise.