CHARLESTON, Ill. (WTHI) - This week the Illinois legislature is in recess, but big decisions loom in the coming month. Including one decision that could add a new industry with thousands of jobs; but has environmentalists of alert.
It's called hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. In simple terms, it's a form of oil or gas extraction using massive amounts of chemical mixed water to break up the rock that surrounds that oil or natural gas.
Right now the state seeing the biggest impact from fracking is North Dakota. In four years the state has added 41,000 jobs and is the fastest growing state in the union.
That brings us to Illinois.
This year the legislature is considering allowing fracking throughout the state. So we spoke with Illinois representative Brad Halbrook to find out where the state stood.
"The (current fracking) bill is 90 pages long it deals with every aspect of hydraulic fracking. It will deal with the fines and fees and taxes that go along with it," he said of the legislation.
Estimates from state officials say that in 3 years the industry could bring in around 47,000 jobs and nine billion dollars into the state's economy.
Halbrook says the Wabash Valley is one of the areas that stands to gain from it.
"We're on the northern edge of the New Albany shale, so we feel that there could be activity not only with that, but with all the other services, activities and jobs that would be created with that," he explained.
"They may drive a little, but the jobs would relatively close."
As you can imagine pumping any sort of chemical water into the ground has concerns for how it could pollute your groundwater or the land and environment around you.
That's something the legislature has been keeping a close eye on during the process. Halbrook claims the laws would be stricter than any other state.
"This set of regulations would be the toughest set in the nation, we would be the 14th state to adopt these regulations and we would have the toughest in the nation."
But only time will tell if the bill passes and whether or not those concerns flow or the money does.
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