Time Lost Waiting for Hydraulic Fracturing in Illinois

Today marks the 407th day since the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn. However, hydraulic fracturing still has not begun in Illinois because the necessary rules have not been implemented by the Quinn administration.

Despite the urgency felt by most, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has failed to issue final rules and has reportedly hired only a few of the dozens of employees they need to complete their rulemaking assignment, thus causing this enormous resource to sit untapped. "The Quinn administration has failed to implement the law that passed overwhelmingly by a bipartisan group of lawmakers,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and COO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Illinois’ hydraulic fracturing law has the strongest set of regulations in the nation, backed by environmental organizations, business community and agricultural interests. Additionally, Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, yet Governor Quinn is allowing politics to derail the creation of thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue."

The Growing Resources and Opportunity for the Workforce in Illinois coalition (GROW-IL) helped advocate the passage of the country’s most comprehensive hydraulic fracturing laws. GROW-IL recognizes the importance of a careful rulemaking process by the IDNR as dedicated stewards caring for our land, but the time for utilizing our natural resources in a responsible way is long overdue. “The waiting game is not only frustrating, but it is hurting economic opportunity in Illinois,” said Tom Wolf, executive director at Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Council. “The governor showed leadership by signing this fracking legislation 402 days ago, but his agency can’t seem to finish rules that are based on 120 pages of prescriptive legislation. We’d like to think the Quinn administration could walk and chew gum at the same time, but given the length of time this rule-making process is taking, we’re beginning to wonder.”

According to a study by Illinois State University professor Dr. David Loomis, the New Albany shale formation covering a substantial portion of southern Illinois could potentially have a $9.5 billion economic impact in our state and produce up to 47,000 jobs annually. “Illinois has a very skilled workforce desperately waiting for these jobs,” said Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “There’s no reason to continue this 402 day delay when there are so many men and women in need of these jobs. Employers have moved to southern Illinois with the intention of starting hydraulic fracturing and providing good-paying jobs. They can’t wait around much longer; they are losing on their investments, and Illinois is losing out on rich economic opportunity.”

Industry experts believe the fracking boom will increase employment nationwide. “The oil and gas industry is creating jobs and bringing economic development all over the country,” said Dan Eichholz, associate director at the Illinois Petroleum Council. “It’s time for Illinois to start getting its fair share of the benefits. Shale energy development supports more than 1.75 million American jobs. The average hourly pay of workers involved with shale energy development is more than $35/hour.