SPRINGFIELD – Today, Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 1715 – the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act – into law. Sponsored by State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign), this measure is expected to create jobs and stimulate the economy in southern and central Illinois while protecting air quality and drinking water.
"The toughest fracking rules in the nation are now law in Illinois," Frerichs said. "For three years, I've worked with all the stakeholders, listening to the people who live in our downstate communities to make sure we move ahead responsibly and get this right the first time."
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," involves drilling a horizontal well and then pumping a mixture of water, chemicals and a substance such as sand into the well to fracture the surrounding shale. The sand holds the cracks open, and the oil or gas escapes up the well casing. Concerns about fracking include possible chemical contamination of water sources, the large amount of fresh water used, excess natural gas released into the air and the risk of wastewater spills.
Senate Bill 1715, expected to allow the industry to create up to 47,000 jobs in Illinois, features the nation's largest minimum setback between a well and a drinking water source. It also contains a novel provision placing the burden of proof on the drilling company to prove drinking water contamination was not caused by its activities. Well operators must not store chemical-laced wastewater in open pits and must take steps to prevent air pollution. Before a well is fracked, nearby water sources will be tested to establish a baseline level of contaminants, making it easier to determine whether drilling activity has affected the water.
Regulatory stability will open the door to exploration and extraction, creating anywhere from 1,000 to 47,000 jobs, mostly in Southern and east-central Illinois. The state's coffers will benefit from a severance tax on oil and gas, and a tax credit is available to companies that hire local workers. The new law takes effect immediately.
Years served: 2007 - Present
Committee assignments: Higher Education (Chairperson); Agriculture and Conservation (Chairperson); Licensed Activities; Commerce; Education; Committee of the Whole; Subcommittee on Animal Welfare (Sub-Chairperson); Subcommittee on Coal Mining (Sub-Chairperson).
Biography: Full-time legislator; born July 28, 1973, in Gifford; B.A., Yale University; former Champaign County Auditor and Champaign County Board Member.