February 26, 2013

After months of stalled negotiations, Illinois may be moving closer to passing hydraulic fracturing legislation. On February 21, 2013, bipartisan members of the Illinois House of Representatives introduced HB 2615, which proponents argue combines the nation’s strongest public health and safety regulations with the flexibility needed for the industry’s development. Among its provisions, the bill prohibits horizontal drilling without a permit, requires the disclosure of all fracking chemicals used, and regulates the location of hydraulic fracturing operations. HB 2615 has received initial bipartisan support across a large group of lawmakers, business leaders, and environmentalists.

A recent study by the Illinois Chamber Foundation concluded that fracking along southern Illinois’ New Albany shale formation could potentially bring thousands of jobs and up to 9.5 billion dollars in economic impact to the state. HB 2615 currently appears to have the support and momentum necessary to pass both houses. In May 2012, the Senate passed a similar bill, SB 3280, but the bill met strong opposition in the House over safeguard concerns.