House GOP Push for Landmark Fracking Agreement

With tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue at stake, a group of House Republicans today called for a House vote on a bi-partisan fracking agreement currently 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 widespread agreement and more than 50 bi-partisan House sponsors, Republican Representatives today 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 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.”

“Expanding the fracking industry in Illinois will create more jobs and grow our economy,” said Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), another chief co-sponsor. “Illinois needs jobs, our state government must stop the political games and pass House Bill 2615 to expand fracking in Illinois. 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. Illinois has an opportunity at its fingertips, let’s stop sitting on our hands and use this opportunity to put people back to work.”

“Illinois has the potential to be on the cutting edge with hydraulic fracking. This agreed-to process by all stakeholders will propel Illinois and the Midwest into economic heights never before reached,” said State Rep. Brad Halbrook.

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.

 “I think we have created model legislation for the United States for safe hydraulic fracturing; to do fracking in way that provides a competitive basis so that we can get these important resources out the ground, to aid the public in our energy supply and yet provide the best possible safety to the public, air, and water,” said Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago). “Not 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.” 

“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,” added House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). “We need to seize this opportunity to create jobs and bring in new revenues as soon as possible.” Other links on fracking: