Ill. House Committee OKs Fracking Regulatory Bill
By The Associated Press, with addtional reporting from Illinois Public Radio
An Illinois House committee has OK'd a measure to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling in the state.
The House Executive Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to move to the full House a bill meant to kick-start hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking'' in southern Illinois.
Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations deep underground and release oil and natural gas.
The proposal has been described as the strictest in the nation. It outlines rules energy companies would have to follow.
The bill requires that companies disclose fracking chemicals and test water before and after drilling. It also holds them liable for contamination.
Sponsor John Bradley (D-Marion), called the updated version a “historic agreement” that includes the strongest fracking regulations in the country.
“I drink this water in southern Illinois. My children drink the water in southern Illinois. My neighbors drink the water in southern Illinois. Our first and foremost presumption, effort, intent in everything we did, in every negotiation we had, was first and foremost we’re going to protect the groundwater in southern Illinois," he said.
Gov. Pat Quinn issued a statement following the committee's action.
“Many 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," he said. “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."
The measure's opponents worry it would cause air and water pollution and deplete water resources.