Nation's toughest?
6:26 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Fracking Standards Now Law In Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn says he has signed into law the nation's toughest regulations on "fracking" – while unlocking the potential for thousands of jobs. 

Credit epa.gov

High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a controversial process -- involves pumping water and chemicals deep underground to get at oil and natural gas. Critics say it's a dangerous business that could leave water supplies contaminated. 

The director of the Illinois Environmental Council, Jen Walling, says she wishes the state would ban the practice.  But she says given that fracking's already happening in Illinois, her group and other major environmental organizations agreed to the new law. Walling says it sets tough, comprehensive standards drillers must follow. 

"We don't allow open pits storage of waste water afterward.  This has been a huge problem in other states.  Our law requires that all waste water be kept in closed loop tanks.  That's a really big deal."

It's expected to be a while before fracking really gets underway, though. The state has to draft rules, hire inspectors and issue permits. Business groups say as many as 50-thousand jobs could be created, mostly in economically hard-hit southern Illinois.  They also say Illinois should reap millions of dollars in taxes and fees. 

Governor Quinn has  been a big backer of fracking. But he signed the measure into law without any fanfare: no bill signing event, no press conference. The measure's hailed as national standard - business groups and some environmental organizations spent months reaching a compromise.