Fracking bill may be ready for vote

Fracking bill may be ready for vote

SPRINGFIELD — Controversial legislation aimed at regulating hydraulic fracturing in Illinois may be ready for a floor vote, supporters say.

A fracking bill (HB 2615) has been endorsed by business, labor, and gas and oil producers and could get a House vote as early as today. But last year another fracking bill, also believed to be a compromise, stalled out in late May.

"I believe there's an agreed bill," said Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who has been involved in drafting fracking bills both years. "However, in the past I've also believed there's an agreed bill and then things changed.

"So until something gets out of the House with a strong majority, I'll withhold any judgment."

He said he hopes the bill continues to contain "strong regulations and safeguards" regarding protecting well casings so that chemicals and other pollutants don't reach aquifers and other drinking water sources. It's also imperative, he said, that the legislation include disclosure of chemicals used in the fracturing process.

In fracking, high-pressure blends of water, chemicals and sand or gravel is used to break up underground rock formations to get at oil and natural gas.

Supporters say the legislation, if enacted, would create thousands of jobs, particularly in southern Illinois, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for state and local governments.

"This will result in good-paying jobs for working families in Illinois," said Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

"The industry is ready and willing to explore and produce in Illinois under the negotiated agreement," said Brad Richards, president of the Illinois Oil and Gas Association.

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