Reporting from Chris Slaby.
A measure that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” heads to the full Illinois House after Representatives approved it at a hearing Tuesday.
The plan, which passed unanimously, comes two months after a previous version appeared to have enough momentum to go before the House. It stalled over environmentalists’ raised concern there was not enough protection to keep water wells from becoming contaminated.
Unions were also divided over a labor dispute.
Sponsor John Bradley, a Democratic representative from Marion, calls the updated version a “historic agreement” that includes the strongest fracking regulations in the country.
“I drink this water in southern Illinois. My children drink the water in southern Illinois. My neighbors drink the water in southern Illinois," Bradley said. "Our first and foremost presumption, effort, intent in everything we did, in every negotiation we had, was first and foremost we’re going to protect the groundwater in southern Illinois.”
While the measure does have the support of some environmental groups, others are still against it.
Opponents say even with the additional regulations, water and land contamination are still possible. They also say fracking could expose workers to cancer-causing gas.
The Governor says the agreement “unlocks the potential for thousands of jobs.”