State House Republicans push for vote on fracking agreement
Online Staff Report
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A group of House Republicans called for a House vote April 30 on a bi-partisan fracking agreement stuck in the Rules Committee.
Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly referred to as fracking, is the extraction of natural gas and oil from the earth through horizontal drilling. The extraction technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the natural gas.
More than a year of negotiations involving both energy and environmental organizations resulted in a bi-partisan agreement that permits high-volume fracking while enforcing some of the nation’s strictest water and air protections. House Bill 2615 establishes the permit process, property owner notification, defines prevention standards and public input timelines.
With more than 50 bi-partisan House sponsors, Republican representatives called for the measure to be released from the Rules Committee for prompt consideration by the full House.
“Fracking in Illinois will be the biggest job-creator our state has seen in years,” said state Rep. David Reis, R-Ste. Marie, a negotiator and chief co-sponsor of the measure. “We’ve got an agreed bill with business, union, agricultural and environmental leaders, and progress should not be stalled due to political games. With thousands of jobs to be created under this measure, in addition to millions of new revenue for state and local economies, our top priority must be moving this bill forward and signing it into law.
“The legislation introduced would make Illinois’ fracking industry the most regulated of any state while safeguarding our water supply and bring thousands of jobs to our state,” Reis added. “Illinois has an opportunity at its fingertips; let’s stop sitting on our hands and use this opportunity to put people back to work.”
State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, added: “As I have said in the past, we are doing nothing in Springfield. Political gridlock is keeping the legislature from accomplishing the goals that we promised voters we would address. Yet another example of political games being played at the expense of doing what is right for Illinois. Expanding the fracking industry in Illinois will create more jobs and grow our economy; things that are desperately needed by my district and across the state.”
New natural gas production in Illinois could create more than 45,000 jobs and $9 billion in economic development, according to an Illinois Chamber Foundation study. The report identified potential economic benefits to the state at three hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling scenarios (low, medium and high): lowest scenario creating 1,034 new jobs and the highest scenario 47,312. The study concluded fracking in Illinois, under modest assumptions, will be a significant creator of new jobs, translating into billions of dollars in economic impact for the state.
“The legislation introduced would make the Illinois fracking industry the most regulated of any state while still safeguarding our air and water supply and bringing thousands of jobs to Illinois. We have an opportunity at our fingertips, yet we continue to sit on our hands,” explained Cabello. “I plan to support this measure and use the opportunity to put people back to work.”
State Rep. Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, noted that, “[n]ot only will this provide a more competitive basis in the industry, but also creates a step towards an affordable energy solution that is a friendlier alternative to the environment.”
House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, noted: “Our state is in a deep financial crisis and we need jobs. Illinois’ unemployment rate continues to be higher than the national average. While this is not the cure to all of our woes, it is a step we need to take to start growing the economy, which will not only help our unemployment situation, but also our state budget. We need to seize this opportunity to create jobs and bring in new revenues as soon as possible.”
Posted May 1, 2013