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House Republicans Call for Vote on Fracking Regulations

By Stephanie Tyrpak By Andy Shofstall

Story Created: Apr 30, 2013 at 6:12 PM CDT

Story Updated: Apr 30, 2013 at 6:47 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD — Republican leaders in Illinois are calling for a bill regulating fracking to be brought to a vote.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has instead come out in favor of a moratorium, and some environmental groups, like SAFE, believe he needs to keep that stance.

However, some state lawmakers spoke out Tuesday in Springfield pushing for an industry-regulating legislation to move forward. They contend hydraulic fracturing could bring in thousands of jobs and revenue to the state.

“Folks over the last 23 years, we’ve lost over 177,000 jobs in the state of Illinois because of not putting ourselves in position to accept new industry and grow existing industry,” said Representative Mike Bost.

The legislation has been described by some as one of the most comprehensive in the country, setting up a permit process and other standards.

“Many people in the industry from the Sierra Club to the Farm Bureau who came to agreement on the issue of fracking,” said House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

House Speaker Michael Madigan for now has put his support behind a moratorium, and GOP leaders feel he’s using the position to play politics.

“We believe it should be called,” said Representative David Reis. “We believe if it is called it will pass the house and the senate with many, many votes to spare.”

However, SAFE hopes Madigan won’t budge on.

“Keep Speaker Madigan’s feet to the fire on saying, you said moratorium, let’s make good on that promise,” said Attorney Rich Whitney.

Legislators have just a month before this session comes to a close.

“Some regulation is better than nothing at all,” said Whitney. “But we’re fighting to the hilt, to the last ditch for a moratorium.”

Whitney says the group has been sending members to Springfield to meet with lawmakers.

“Many of us are saying no, go slow,” said Whitney. “This is our water, this is our air, this is our food that we’re talking about.”

Whitney also believes there are some risks in hydraulic fracturing that can’t be regulated, and job numbers are being exaggerated.

“Fracking is inherently unsafe,” said Whitney. “But even if we’re wrong, let’s err on the side of caution.”

Whitney says even if they can’t get a moratorium passed this session, they’ll keep fighting for it into the next one.

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