Pembroke Township, population less than 2,000, is the last historic Black farming community left in Illinois. And at one time, it was the largest such community in the northern United States. Founded in the 1860s by runaway slaves, it soon became an agricultural hub, producing tons of hemp during World War II and later feeding Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland during the Great Migration from the South to the North.
And now Nicor Gas wants to run a natural gas pipeline to it.
Earlier this summer the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly passed HB 3404 — a bill that will help fund the proposed gas line, in part by allowing for a 250-percent increase to customers’ gas bills statewide. It would cap a years-long push to bring cheaper natural gas heat to an area, an hour’s drive south of Chicago, that now gets its heat from a mix of propane, wood-burning stoves, and electric space heaters. Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, has until August 29 to sign the bill into law.
But many local farmers and environmentalists are pleading with Pritzker to veto the bill, arguing that the pipeline would threaten agricultural land a... Read more