A bill that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the
state passed in the Illinois Senate Friday evening.
Pat Quinn, who promotes the legislation as a job creator, applauded
lawmakers in the Illinois Senate who passed the bill by a 52-3-4 vote on
the last day of the session. The bill passed in the House Thursday night.
“This is a good bill and
it’s the result of a good-faith effort by lawmakers, industry and labor
leaders, environmental groups and members of my administration to ensure
Illinois’ natural resources are protected,” Quinn said in a statement.
releases Earth’s natural gas by combining horizontal drilling with
injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand or gravel, and
chemicals into the ground to create cracks in deep rock layers to release oil and natural gas.
According to lawmakers, Illinois’ regulatory bill carries the nation’s strongest environmental protections.
Critics of the legislation say fracking is unsafe and hurts the environment. Opponents have been advocating for a moratorium on the drilling until further research has been done on the effects of fracking.
compromise legislation attempts to manage the drilling’s environmental
impact through “strong” regulatory provisions. Under the bill, companies are prohibited
from drilling within 500 feet from schools and 300 feet from rivers; are
required to test water before and after drilling; must publicly
disclose fracking chemicals; and are held liable if water is
contaminated. Also, companies must obtain a permit from the Illinois
Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) before high-volume horizontal
drilling takes place under the bill's provisions, under the legislation.
should not be taking place in Illinois, but it is,” Natural Resources
Defense Council (NRDC) Midwest Director Henry Henderson said in a
Representatives from the NRDC, along with the
Sierra Club and Environment Illinois, attended several of the bill’s
negotiations with legislators as the bill's regulations were drafted.
science, and more protections are needed for our health and safety. We
would prefer a moratorium on fracking, but cannot ignore the current
reality that unregulated fracking is already endangering the citizens of
this state,” Henderson said. “This bill provides a solid foundation to
build on, offering Illinoisans protections missing from other states, a
seat at the table in the permitting process, and access to the courts to defend themselves."