An Illinois veterans group is challenging the federal government’s attempts to curtail hydraulic fracturing, a process also known as "fracking."
“The fact is that half of America’s oil, and two-thirds of our natural gas, come from hydraulic fracturing, so why shouldn’t we produce it here in America?” Keith Pekau, the volunteer chairman of Illinois Vets4Energy, said. "Let’s put American workers – the best in the world and who care about the environment – on the job producing these products. And that includes putting Illinois workers on the job refining these products."
There are more than 721,500 military veterans living in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 200,000 of them served in the Gulf War in the Middle East, an area where Pekau said the United States still buys too much of its oil.
“We should not leave those jobs to less-qualified workers in other countries who don’t care as much,” the retired U.S. Air Force captain said.
Pekau also thinks it’s time the U.S. started producing more energy at home rather than purchasing it from unstable and less friendly regions around the globe.
“No single source of energy is the perfect choice," he said. "We need them all. But no matter how fast other renewables are developed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration believes oil and gas will continue to provide 60 percent of the world’s energy needs for many decades."
At the same time, Pekau has noted that President Barack Obama’s actions to ban oil and gas development in the Atlantic Continental Shelf, implement stifling regulations to reduce coal production, and to deny permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, among others, negatively impact the nation’s security.
According to the 2016 International Index of Energy Security Risk from the Institute for 21st Century Energy, the ongoing shale boom in the U.S. has changed and improved both this country’s and the global energy security landscape for the positive.
“Hydraulic fracturing is what made America the new leader in oil and natural gas," Pekau said. "Those who fight against and try to ban hydraulic fracturing either don’t understand or are not honest about what they are really fighting for."