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Fracking Negotiations Continuing


Negotiations between several interests over the drafting of Illinois legislation to regulate high-volume, hydraulic fracturing continued Wednesday, state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said.

“All the different groups are at the table. We continue to make progress on the issue to protect communities and the ground water and allow the industry to develop and benefit the area and the economy in a responsible manner,” Bradley said.

Though Bradley would not commit to a time frame for when a bill might be drafted, the goal is to have legislation in place before oil and gas companies begin the controversial drilling practice commonly referred to as fracking, he said.

Bradley is among legislators taking a lead role in establishing new state regulations to govern fracking without delaying its use through a moratorium as favored by many environmental groups and some local governments, the city of Carbondale and Jackson and Union counties among them.

Other local communities have voiced their support for the practice because of the potential impact on jobs and the economy it might have.

Barb McKasson, chair of the Shawnee Group Sierra Club, said more study is needed on the environmental and health impact of fracturing, which uses millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to extract natural gas from shale rock.

Although the Sierra Club is working with other organizations involved in legislative negotiations, the preference is for a moratorium to allow time for further study, said McKasson, in Carbondale Wednesday night for a presentation on the issue.

“Our national position is there has to be very strong standards to protect our air and water and land. Unless there are those standards we will continue to work for stricter standards,” she said. No state so far has developed adequate standards, so it remains to be seen what are the best.”

As part of any new rules and regulations, that would be administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, resources for enforcement would be instrumental, Bradley said, conceding a reasonable concern exists about the department’s ability to meet even today’s demands.

“Obviously our goal is to make sure the people we are relying on to maintain and enforce the law have the ability to do that,” Bradley said. “(DNR) is in the process of getting additional funds and hopefully things will improve.”

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