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Protect Illinois from fracking

Fracking opponents state their case last year protest James R. ThompsCenter Chicago.  |  SUN-TIMES PHOTO

Fracking opponents state their case last year at a protest at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. | SUN-TIMES PHOTO

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Updated: April 4, 2013 6:38AM

From depleting fresh water resources to generating barrel upon barrel of toxic, chemical-laden wastewater of which we can’t safely dispose, drilling and fracking for natural gas unnecessarily threatens our collective health and future. It pollutes our water and air, endangers public health and contributes to climate change. It should not be allowed in Illinois.

HB 2615 is a weak regulatory bill that essentially provides a roadmap for the oil and gas industry to frack our state. It is the product of exclusive negotiations between industry and a small number of organizations, excluding from the process grass-roots groups that have been working to protect their communities from fracking.

The bill does not allow communities affected by fracking to regulate the practice at the county level, and it provides only minor and insufficient protections for fracking near schools, water sources and other critical areas. Moreover, it withholds from the public information about toxic fracking chemicals.

Drilling and fracking to extract natural gas has caused contamination of drinking water, air pollution, accidents and dangerous explosions in states across the country, among other issues.

Why should we settle for this in Illinois? Gov. Pat Quinn and the Legislature have to stand up for Illinoisans.

Rather than this weak bill, they should instead support a long-term moratorium or a full ban on fracking.

Emily Carroll,

Midwest region director,

Food and Water Watch

Where is Bush apology?

I can’t believe that columnist Steve Huntley had the audacity to write about the Obama administration crying wolf over the budget cuts and that the adminstration is painting dire pictures to achieve its ends [“Obama caught crying wolf,” Friday]. Americans are still waiting for apologies from the wolf cries of the Bush administration about the WMDs that triggered two wars, leaving thousands of Americans wounded/maimed/killed.

Daniel Pupo, Bellwood

Stop military sex assaults

While watching political pundits debate the confirmation hearings of defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, I wondered what the outcome of his hearings or future nominees will mean for the thousands of women serving in our military. Rather than align with any one nominee, I am committed to ensuring our country’s next defense secretary takes proactive measures to address the needs of women, particularly those who have been victims of sexual assault. Our armed forces have fallen short of its promise to care for female soldiers in several areas, and most urgently in sexual assault prevention and intervention cases. Over the past 10 years, the military has failed to address the increasing number of sexual assaults in the military. One in three military women has been sexually assaulted compared to one in six civilian women, according the Department of Defense. The military estimates only 14 percent of these assaults were reported. Although military sexual assault is not exclusive to women (with most male victims never reporting an incident), the majority of victims are female soldiers under the age of 25, and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male.

Our military services must take the lead in implementing thoughtful, zero-tolerance policies to prevent sexual violence and also, fund programs to support victims of assault. Some of these actions should include, establishing an independent agency to investigate cases of assault detached from the current military chain of command, which currently investigates these cases. The military should also provide a third party review of abuse allegations to ensure accusations are being properly addressed, as well as enforce severe penalties for convicted sexual offenders. In order to improve the military culture that allowed this abuse to become so prevalent, the military needs to be open in addressing sexual violence. By better supporting women in the military, our nation has an opportunity to model best practices for the recruitment, training and retirement of all our service men and women.

Pamela Bozeman-Evans,

chief strategic initiatives officer,

YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

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