Measure regulating fracking gains steam

May 16, 2013

A new plan to regulate the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing is back on track in the Illinois legislature. IPR’S Amanda Vinicky has more.
New technology allows energy companies to use high volumes of water mixed with chemicals to drill deep into the ground for oil and natural gas. There's hope Illinois' New Albany shale could be rich with both. But before companies start "fracking," as the practice is known, the state needs to set up rules.

An earlier compromise reached in March broke down over environmentalists' concerns that some drilling operations would be exempt from regulations. Drilling companies and some labor unions were also upset over a provision that would have required members of an operating engineers union be hired. Tom Wolf heads the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Energy Council.

"There's always a little, couple snafus in 105 pages of regulations in a bill, that people wanted do just tweak this and tweak that. So ultimately we had more negotiations to resolve those issues.  And we resolved those to everybody's satisfaction."

The latest package would give companies a tax credit if half of their workers are Illinois residents. And key environmentalists say they're satisfied the legislation covers all it should. Others are still opposed to allowing fracking in Illinois at all.