The Illinois House Executive Committee approved a bill Tuesday, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, that
would bring high-volume oil and gas drilling to southern portions of the
State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), SB 1715, was passed by a unanimous
vote and now advances to the full House. The bill was passed in the Illinois
Senate in April.
Companion legislation, HB 2615, has been delayed in the House Revenue and Finance Committee since March.
to the Chicago Tribune, the committee approved the legislation despite
chants of “shame” from environmental activists who attended the hearing.
Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, injects a mixture
of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in deep
rock layers and releasing Earth’s natural gas. Supporters tout it as a
job creator that supplies America with its own source of natural gas,
but opponents question its environmental impact.
"I live in
southern Illinois. I drink the water in southern Illinois. My children
drink the water in southern Illinois. My neighbors drink the water in
southern Illinois," Bradley testified to members of the committee. "Our
first and foremost ... effort, intent in everything we did and every
negotiation we had, was first and foremost that we are going to protect
the ground water in southern Illinois."
The bill attempts to
regulate fracking by establishing a new permit program within the
Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and requiring a permit
be obtained before high-volume horizontal drilling takes plave. The legislation also holds companies liable for water and
ground contamination, requires they perform water tests before and after
drilling, and mandates that fracking chemicals be disclosed to the public.
“turns communities into industrial zones”, according to Sandra
Steingraber, an Illinois native and founder of New Yorkers Against
Fracking, who testified Tuesday on behalf of the Illinois Coalition for a
Moratorium on Fracking.
"It's a model for anti-scientific decision making," she said.
Gov. Pat Quinn endorsed the legislation during his budget
address in March. The governor promoted fracking as a job creator and said
the bill has the “strongest environmental regulations in the nation.”
He praised the House committee members for their vote this morning.
months ago I directed my staff to bring together a coalition of
legislators, labor, industry and advocates to develop a hydraulic
fracturing bill that would set a new national standard for environmental
protection and job creation potential,” Quinn said in a statement.
“Today, I commend the members of the Illinois House Executive Committee
who voted to put this proposal on the path to becoming law in Illinois.”