Fracking bill passes both houses, sent to Quinn

Fracking bill passes both houses, sent to Quinn

SPRINGFIELD — A measure regulating hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in Illinois was approved Friday night by the Illinois Senate and sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his approval.

Approved 52-3, it was one of the last measures passed by the Senate before it adjourned for the spring. All area senators supported the bill.

The governor's office already has endorsed the legislation (SB 1715) in House and Senate committees, and Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan also backed the measure.

It was sponsored in the Senate by Champaign Democrat Mike Frerichs.

Frerichs said the proposal would give Illinois "the most comprehensive" fracking regulations in the United States. Fracturing generally involves the use of high-pressure streams of water, chemicals and sometimes sand or gravel to break up underground structures in order to get at oil and gas reserves.

He said environmental protection measures in the bill include requirements that oil and gas producers disclose chemicals used in the fracturing process, that nearby water wells be monitored, and that so-called "flowback" from the process would have to be stored in above-ground containers, not in open pools.

The legislation was endorsed by business associations, environmental groups, and oil and gas producers, but some lawmakers said they preferred a total moratorium on fracking in the state.

Many lawmakers, however, said the bill would drive major economic investment in the state, particularly in southern Illinois.

"This could lead to a bright economic future for many IIlinoisans, and for the state's revenues," said Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

"This is a good bill to create jobs, not just in my district, but all over Illinois," said Sen.Kyle McCarter, R-Vandalia.

Frerichs said fracturing is already going on in Illinois and without passage of a regulatory measure, the state's environment is at risk.