Environmentalists and business groups have reached an agreement that paves the way for "fracking" in Illinois.
Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey reports it was an unusual sight: supporters of the oil and gas industry sharing a podium with environmental activists. They've agreed on legislation that would regulate the oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." Jack Darin, with the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, says fracking is coming to Illinois, so it's better to compromise on new rules than to do nothing.
"So for people who have heard stories, and have concerns about fracking and what it might mean for their drinking water and the places they love, we share those concerns. But with this bill, which in many respects is the strongest of any state in the country, our communities and you will be much, much safer."
Both sides say they still have to work out details, like making sure the state can afford to enforce the proposed regulations. It's thought that the New Albany shale, in southeastern Illinois, could become a significant source of fossil fuels.
The legislation still has to get through the House and Senate and be signed by the governor. The sponsor, Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), says he hopes fracking will be underway by the end of the year. Co-sponsors include Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), and John Cabello (R-Loves Park).
Governor Pat Quinn released the following statement on the proposed legislation:
“Today’s proposal is good news for Southern Illinois and our entire state’s economy. This legislation has the potential to bring thousands of jobs to Southern Illinois, while also ensuring that Illinois has the nation’s strongest environmental protections.
“I am committed to creating jobs and economic growth in every part of Illinois, and always making sure our water and natural resources are protected for future generations.
“I want to thank everyone who’s been working hard in good faith on this issue. While there is more work to be done, this proposal moves us forward.”