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Fracking Supporters Want DNR to Finish Rules
"Get it done" was the message fracking supporters had for the Quinn administration, Thursday morning at the Capitol.
Though the state's fracking law was signed last June - 402 days ago - the Department of Natural Resources still hasn't submitted a final set of rules to match the regulations in the law as a Nov. 15 deadline approaches.
Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking as its more commonly known - is a controversial process of injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack underground rock formations and release oil and natural gas.
A coalition calling itself GROW-IL, lead by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, Illinois AFL-CIO and Illinois Petroleum Council is calling on Gov. Pat Quinn's administration and the Department of Natural Resources to finish up rules that would allow Illinois fracking to begin in Southern Illinois in the New Albany shale formation.
"We're after the jobs," said AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan.
"It could be up to 45,000 jobs over five years, and billions of dollars of economic activity," said Tom Wolfe of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
But the fracking supporters say some companies are already indicating they intend to ditch Illinois as they wait for fracking to get the final green light.
"Their first timetable was first draft in January of this year, second draft in May, hopefully JCAR approval in June, and then we'd be doing permits right now," Wolfe said.
Local environmental activist, Will Reynolds, says he hopes the DNR takes its time.
"You know, the oil and gas industry has been rushing fracking from the start," said Reynolds. "They have a problem. The more people learn about fracking, the more they're opposed to it."
Reynolds hopes the extra time will mean the DNR fixes what he said was a "deeply flawed" rough draft of the rules and allow more time to build opposition to fracking.
Opponents like Reynolds point to concerns about a link to earthquakes and decreased water quality. The state's law is considered to be among the strictest in the nation, though he says it's still not enough.
"It would stop fracking after it's already inducing earthquakes, which means it's too late to prevent the problem," he said. "It does the same thing with water contamination. It has provisions that go into effect after water's been contaminated. That's very comforting for people whose well water has already been contaminated."
But until the DNR finishes its rules, there won't be any profits or problems.
Illinois Manufacturers' Association Vice-President Mark Denzler says conversations with administration officials make him believe the delay is an effort by Quinn to put off fracking until after the election.
The administration says it will submit the rules before the deadline, though once it submits a final version, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will still need to approve them before the Nov. 15 deadline.