Seeking to head off environmental horror stories, state Sen. Michael Frerichs successfully guided through the Illinois Senate the state’s first comprehensive set of standards for hydraulic fracturing – often referred to as “fracking.”
“This measure is an effort to be proactive in setting necessary standards so that we can start the process of bringing the hydraulic fracturing jobs to Illinois,” Frerichs said after Thursday’s Senate vote.
Fracking is an increasingly controversial process for extracting natural gas that involves injecting water and chemicals into the ground to force out the gas. In other states, the process has been tied to contamination of drinking water and other environmental concerns. At the same time, the natural gas extraction industry is primed to create jobs and assist in boosting the nation’s energy independence.
Frerichs believes the legislation he’s advancing in Illinois strikes a pro-active balance. His proposal won the support of leading environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Faith in Place, and Illinois Environmental Council and key business groups such as the Illinois Petroleum Council and Illinois Oil & Gas Association.
Frerich’s proposal – SB 3280 – requires oversight and regulation of fracking by the Department of Natural Resources. Specifically, fracking operators would be required to provide the department with a complete list of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process before beginning work. The proposal requires that fracking wastewater pits be lined to prevent leakage into groundwater.
“Currently, there are no fracking sites in Illinois, but companies have started to invest in southern counties in the state and are expected to start drilling in those areas as soon as next month,” Frerichs said. “Having these regulations in place before any fracking begins ensures that safeguards are in place from the very beginning and landowners have greater protection from chemical contamination of their drinking water.”
The legislation now advances to the Illinois House for consideration.