The fracking people are out of patience. These are the business and labor groups that supported legislation to allow hydraulic fracturing in Illinois, drilling for oil and gas in the New Albany shale play. They were pleased when the measure passed last year and was signed into law by the governor, but they’re frustrated now with the delay in approving rules so permits can be issued, and they aired their grievances Thursday at a news conference at the Capitol.
“In Southern Illinois, there’s a high level of unemployment. We have a skilled work force who’s down there and ready to go to work, and it’s difficult to explain to them that the bill passed in June of 2013, and 13 months later, we’re still dealing with implementation of rules and regulations,” said Michael T. Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO.
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Tom Wolf, executive director of the Energy Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, says plenty of time has passed. “When we started conversations on special hydraulic fracturing regulations in 2012, the environmental community wanted a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Well, two years later, it seems as though they got their wish,” he said.
The Department of Natural Resources is responsible for formulating the rules. The agency published a first draft in November, but has yet to publish the final draft that will be submitted to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules for approval.
The DNR says it has been slowed by the volume of public comments, but it expects to meet a November deadline.