Groups reach fracking agreement in Illinois

Feb 21, 2013

Environmentalists and business groups have reached an agreement that paves the way for "fracking" in Illinois. IPR's Brian Mackey has more on Thursday's announcement.  

Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, announces an agreement to regulate the oil and gas extraction process known as “fracking.” Speaking Thursday in the Illinois Statehouse, both business groups and environmentalists say they support the proposal.

It was an unusual sight: supporters of the oil and gas industry sharing a podium with environmental activists. They've agreed on legislation that would regulate the oil and gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

Jack Darin, with the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, says fracking is coming to Illinois, so it's better to compromise on new rules than to do nothing.

"So for people who have heard stories, and have concerns about fracking and what it might mean for their drinking water and the places they love, we share those concerns. But with this bill, which in many respects is the strongest of any state in the country, our communities and you will be much, much safer," Darin says.

Both sides say they still have to work out details, like making sure the state can afford to enforce the proposed regulations. It's thought that the New Albany shale, in southeastern Illinois, could become a significant source of fossil fuels.

The legislation still has to get through the House and Senate and be signed by the governor. The sponsor says he hopes fracking will be underway by the end of the year.