House Speaker Michael Madigan said Wednesday he favors a temporary ban on the oil and gas drilling technique known as “fracking.” But developments at the Capitol Thursday suggest a deal to pave the way for hydraulic fracturing is still on track. Brian Mackey has more on what might have been a case of media manipulation.
The Speaker doesn’t tip his hand very often, so when he makes a comment in public, people take notice. That’s what happened Wednesday when reporters asked where he stood on Rep. John Bradley’s compromise legislation to regulate fracking.
MADIGAN: “I’m for the moratorium.”
REPORTER: “Over the regulation?”
REPORTER: “You don’t support the Bradley bill?”
MADIGAN: “Read about what happened in Pennsylvania.”
Bradley and other prominent officials — including Attorney General Lisa Madigan — had negotiated with both business interests and environmental groups to agree on the regulations. But as of Wednesday morning, they were still negotiating over what taxes and fees the drillers would pay.
Lo and behold, just hours after the Speaker made his seemingly ominous remarks, they had an agreement. When Rep. Bradley was asked about the timing of Speaker Madigan’s remark, he broke into a big, silent smile …
BRADLEY: “… Well, uh, I’m just happy that we got something done.”
Bradley, who’s one of Madigan’s top lieutenants, says he doesn’t expect legislators will ever get the chance to vote on a fracking moratorium.
— Brian Mackey
UPDATE: Illinois Issues asked Madigan whether he supported a moratorium in order to push the tax deal. “No comment,” he said.