A bill, recently introduced by Illinois State Representatives John Bradley and David Reis, to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the state is attracting support from both industry and environmental groups. The bill, House Bill 2615, introduced on February 21st, 2013, would impose new requirements on the oil and gas industry, such as:

  • Public disclosure of all fracking chemicals before fracking begins
  • Presumed liability of the oil and gas drillers for any environmental contamination near fracking sites, until proven otherwise
  • Restrictions on venting and flaring of natural gas

The bill’s supporters believe that it outlines an effective compromise that could open up the region to what the EIA estimates to be 11 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. Henry Henderson, Director of NRDC’s Midwest Program, had this to say about the bill: “While far from perfect, as written the bill is hugely important to start putting protections for Illinois communities and our economies in place right now. In particular, the bill provides many critical protections that are lacking in other states’ piecemeal fracking rules. And as composed now, it would create new, stronger model standards here that could drive future debates about fracking in other states, and set a higher floor for any future federal fracking rules.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Kyna Legner, Illinois field director for Energy In Depth, which provides research and outreach as part of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, added her take: “We know shale development can be done safely and responsibly, and it’s good news for hardworking Illinois families that we could finally start seeing some new investment in our state again. I think that’s why you see such broad support for Rep. Bradley’s bill, from industry and the environmental community alike.”

What is the best approach to dealing with the fracking issue? Does this bill create a blueprint for federal, state and local regulation?