Fracking Rules Headed for Final Steps

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Randy Livingston

ILLINOIS -- The rules for hydraulic fracturing are headed for the final steps.

The Department of Natural Resources has made their changes to the fracking rules. They will now need a legislative committee to sign off before the state can start issuing permits.
 
You can view the amended rules here. 
 
Friday was the day for IDNR rules and a day for a protest against hydraulic fracturing.
 
"We'd like to see them send fracking packing," said protestor Rene Cook. 
 
The small group of people met outside the Illinois EPA office in Marion. Cook wanted to share her concerns about how more drilling and mining in southern Illinois could damage the water supply.
 
"You know look what's happening in California, Arizona, and the states out west," said Cook. "There's already water shortages."
 
Cook is hopeful the Department of Natural Resources is listening. 
 
For the past months, the department has been going through more than 31,000 comments. On Friday, they sent their revised fracking regulations to a legislative committee for final approval.
     
IDNR says companies will now face stronger rules for letting the public know about water volumes and the chemicals used in fracking. There will be more oversight on water pollution. Sites will also be tested for radioactivity.
 
The committee now has 45 days to respond. For some in the oil and gas industry, that approval can't come soon enough. 
 
"We're doing the science, we're doing all these things, we're two and half years into some of these leases," said Woolsey Energy District Manager Richard Straeter.
 
Woolsey Energy is waiting for that last hurdle. The company is building an office in Fairfield and testing wells in White, Wayne, and Edwards County. They've also testing in Posey County, Indiana.
 
"Between Illinois and Indiana, we have somewhere...over 300,000 acres at this point," said Straeter.
 
Most of the leases are valid for four years and can only be extended for another four. Straeter is optimistic that they will finally start fracking in Illinois by April.
   
"We fully expect to be delayed," said Straeter. "So more than likely we'll drill our first horizontal in Indiana."
 
The deadline for the rules is November 15. 
 
IDNR is making progress on hiring people to oversee fracking. They want to have more than 50 new employees. So far, they've filled 23 spots.
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