While Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is patting his own back over settling litigation related to a major gas leak into the Mahomet Aquifer, the end result for affected families is virtually nothing, according to State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
In a recent press release, Raoul’s office touted a consent order with Peoples Gas, though the order contains little more than what the company was already required to do in the first place. It does not force People’s Gas to extend water lines to affected homes.
“The first job of the Attorney General, five years ago, should have been to get these folks clean water, period. Not bottled water, not some machine in their basement or outbuilding, but actual clean water out of their tap,” said Rose. “There should have never even been a discussion of settlement by the AG before People’s Gas paid to extend clean water lines to these homes. Apparently General Raoul’s version of justice is nothing more than playing paddy cake with Peoples Gas. Meanwhile my constituents still can’t drink water out of their tap.”
“This is a slap in the face to all of us who have been affected by this, and is clearly nothing more than political theatre,” said Jodi Eisenmann, a Mahomet resident whose well was contaminated. “The Attorney General’s job is to protect the people of Illinois, but clearly having clean drinking water is not a high priority for him. We are still in the same spot we were five years ago, drinking from bottled water, and Peoples Gas has still not been held accountable. This issue is not resolved for all of us who have been affected.”
The Mahomet Aquifer supplies drinking water to half a million homes in Eastern and Central Illinois. A few years ago, People’s Gas leaked natural gas leaked into the aquifer from a storage site, contaminating the well water for many homes located in Champaign County. The contamination was so bad that some of the affected homeowners were able to literally light their tap water on fire.
Since news of the leak became public, Senator Rose has filed and passed numerous pieces of legislation to protect the aquifer. Despite repeated requests, Raoul’s office has refused to hold Peoples Gas responsible and force them to pay to extend water lines to the impacted homes.
“I don’t understand why the Attorney General refuses to hold Peoples Gas accountable for the damage they caused, to require them to supply clean water to the homes where wells were left unusable,” said Rose. “Where I come from, when you make a mess, you fix it. It’s that simple. Extending clean water lines was the fix all along. How do you even think about settling a case without the most important requirement: getting these people clean water out of their tap? Maybe if this had happened to homes in Chicago, Raoul would be more interested in doing his job.”