VIENNA, Ill. (AP) — Voters in southern Illinois’ Johnson County have rejected a ballot referendum that could have prompted the county’s governing board to restrict a form of oil drilling.
The ballot measure involving hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was defeated by a 600-vote margin. More than 2,220 people voted against the provision, while about 1,600 supported it.
The non-binding referendum was meant to advise the Johnson County Commission whether it should resist efforts to open the county to fracking. The process involves blasting rock formations deep underground with water, sand and chemicals to release trapped oil and gas.
The issue for months has hijacked the County Commission meetings, pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Annette McMichael of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment says it’s unclear where the anti-fracking effort in the county goes from here.