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Forum: Help stop fracking bill

Updated: June 10, 2013 2:27PM



The Fracking Regulatory Act, House Bill 2615, which allows the oil and gas industry to engage in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Illinois with very weak regulations, could be passed soon by the Illinois General Assembly. This law will not protect us, our environment or our waters from the horrendous impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

The fracking industry is too powerful for any state government to be trusted to ensure that it is done safely with little or no negative effects on the environment or to the public.

The gas and oil industries have their eyes on at least 17 counties in southern Illinois as prospects for fracking. Myths about “clean” energy must be dispelled. Those living in the vicinity of fracking have experienced health problems, some serious, and have seen wells, and even homes, explode.

Fracking is a dangerous procedure. Millions of gallons of water coupled with toxic chemicals are injected into rock formations to break them up, and the runoff fouls our environment.

I urge everyone to support a ban on fracking in Illinois for the sake of the environment and citizenry.

Please urge your state representatives and senators to say “no” to fracking and HB 2615. You may do so by signing the petition at: signon.org/sign/rep-anthony-de-luca-please?source=c.fwd&r_by=854391

B.E. Murphy

Park Forest

Column errs on pension facts

A recent guest column in the SouthtownStar from the Illinois Policy Institute about public pensions contained several incorrect statements.

It is incorrect to say that “the pension systems are independent of state government.” Illinois’ five public pension systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System, were created by state government, are governed by state law and are dependent on state funding. The General Assembly dictates retirement eligibility and sets pension benefits.

Second, it is incorrect to say that all public pensions are not guaranteed by the state in the event the system cannot pay those benefits. The IPI misread state law and used language that applies only to local police and firefighter pension systems to make this erroneous claim. For instance, the payment of TRS benefits is specifically guaranteed by state government.

Third, proposed legislation to guarantee state funding for pensions does not refer to the payment of benefits, as implied by the columnist, because benefits already are guaranteed. The legislation would guarantee that the state will pay its full annual contribution to the pension systems instead of diverting funds to other uses.

For decades, state government has diverted millions of dollars away from the pension systems. Those shortfalls created the large unfunded liabilities that now plague TRS and the other four systems.

As state legislators continue to debate the future of public pensions, it is important that we engage in an honest conversation about the problems facing the retirement systems that is based on accurate facts.

Dick Ingram

Executive director

Teachers’ Retirement System

Springfield



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