Illinois Lawmakers Approve Fracking Rules

 
A sign near the Johnson County courthouse urges county voters to defeat a referendum on fracking.

In this March 12, 2014 file photo, a sign near the Johnson County courthouse in Vienna, Ill., urges the county's voters to defeat a ballot referendum on the drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

(AP Photo/Jim Suhr, File)

State lawmakers have signed off on rules regulating high-volume oil and gas drilling in Illinois at a legislative hearing.

The 12-member committee approved the rules during a hearing Thursday in Chicago. It has the last word on whether the rules for hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking,'' can take effect.
 
The committee has been grappling with how to ensure regulations are fair to the industry and protect the environment. Illinois passed legislation allowing fracking about a year and a half ago.

At the time, the legislation was seen as a model of compromise.
 
But pro-industry groups have since complained about delays in approving the rules. Some southern Illinois landowners are also suing the state for failing to implement fracking.
 
Officials say drillers can begin applying for permits in the coming months.

Story source: AP