An attempt to ban fracking in Johnson County, Illinois has failed by a 58-42 vote after the only two newspapers in the country refused to run advertisements from those supporting the initiative. According to the group Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE) Johnson County’s only two newspapers – The Goreville Gazette and The Vienna Times – refused to run advertisements promoting the fracking ban.

Hydraulic fracturing more commonly know as “fracking” is a chemical and mechanical process used in the extraction of natural gas. Questions remain as to how safe the process is with one of the chief worries being leakage of toxic chemicals used in the process into surrounding areas including local water supplies.

Annette McMichael, SAFE Communications Director, received a phone call from Lonnie Hinton, co-owner of both papers, telling her that he was “refusing all advertising from SAFE.” When pressed for information on why Hinton was denying advertisements on the issue from SAFE or anyone else Hinton advised McMichael to “talk to my attorney” before abruptly ending the call.

For its part, SAFE said that while refusing advertising by all local newspapers is not illegal “it is a sad and disturbing situation.”

This is the ad the newspapers refused to run: