SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted 108-9 Thursday in favor of a proposal to permit and regulate hydraulic fracturing drilling for oil and natural gas.
While some opponents argued the controversial drilling process was too environmentally dangerous to be controlled safely by any law, some proponents warned that fracturing already had come to Illinois and that the state immediately needed the strong regulations in the proposal.
The measure needs to receive final approval in the Senate before heading to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. Citing the potential for jobs, especially in southern Illinois, Quinn has said he would sign it.
The proposal would take effect immediately, although it provides a 60-day window between the time a permit application is filed and an agency response is required.
Hydraulic fracturing — “fracking” — is a process that uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas.
Bill co-sponsor David Reis, R-Willow Hill, said the development of the bipartisan proposal was “a battle of two passions” between the drilling industry and environmentalists, who both had input in the plan.
Under the proposal, operators who use high-volume hydraulic fracturing drilling will pay the state of Illinois a tax based on the amount of oil and gas produced. Proponents estimate that a well producing 200 barrels of oil a day would generate more than $1.1 million in revenue during its life.
Bradley said fracking could bring from $10 million to $100 million a year, or more, to the state. Sponsor state Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, said job creation estimates ranged from 5,000 to 76,000.
State Rep. Deborah Mell, D-Chicago, who unsuccessfully sponsored a proposed two-year moratorium this year and last said she wants the state to wait for some national public health studies that are expected in 2014.
The legislation is Senate Bill 1715.