“Fracking” Plan Advances In Illinois House

A plan to regulate the oil and gas drilling process known as “hydraulic fracturing” is moving forward in the Illinois House.

It’s made halting progress all spring as environmental groups negotiated over whether the legislation had enough protections to keep well water clean.

Jen Walling is the executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. She said while her side didn’t get everything it wanted,

WALLING: “It does include much of what we believe is needed to protect water quality and public health and safety.”

Even though the plan’s sponsor says it offers the tightest fracking regulations in the country, not all environmentalists are on board.

Opponents gathered in the Capitol rotunda after the hearing. They say fracking shouldn’t be allowed, even with the extra regulations.

Activist Sandra Steingraber said the guidelines don’t guarantee the prevention of gas leaks.

She also said even gas that’s collected safely for commercial purposes is more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

STEINGRABER: “When you look under fracking’s hood, you find terrifying problems. Because behind the hard sell and the soothing promises, this contraption is unsafe at any speed.”

Despite the protests, a House panel unanimously approved the proposal.

Governor Pat Quinn said he hopes lawmakers “swiftly pass the bill” before they’re scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

—Chris Slaby

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