SPRINGFIELD — A bill sponsored by State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) regulating hydraulic fracturing is likely to come for a vote before the legislative session ends at the end of the month.
The bill, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, passed a House committee on Tuesday and is expected on the floor soon.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of using pressurized sand, water and chemicals to crack through layers of earth to access oil and gas beneath the ground. The bill would regulate the practice of fracking, which would pave the way for large-scale fracking projects to come to the state.
La Salle County has a large sand deposit, and could be a major site for fracking.
Roth said she supports the bill because she believes it could bring a signifcant number of jobs to the state and flow a large amount of money into the local economy.
“This will be a huge boost to the economy,” Roth said. “It will be a huge boon to downstate Illinois.”
“I’m very excited,” Roth said.
Fracking has been heavily criticized by environmental groups who have questioned the environmental safety of the practice.
One concern raised by critics is water contamination.
Roth said this bill imposes stringent regulations to ensure safety, and has gotten bipartisan support in Springfield and even from some environmental groups that took part in talks about the bill.
“When you have all these groups agree to the language in a bill, it’s a rare day,” Roth said.
That doesn’t mean it’s universally supported.
The Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club has called for lawmakers to enact a moratorium on fracking to further study the risks involved, and a group called Protect Illinois from Fracking has emerged in opposition to the bill.
Numerous anti-fracking activists have been arrested at sit-ins at the state Capitol, and some reportedly chanted, “Shame,” as the bill unanimously passed through the House committee Tuesday.
Still, Roth said the bill could come up for a vote on the House floor any day and she expects it to move forward.
“It will definitely pass out of here,” Roth said.
Gov. Pat Quinn has said he supports the bill, calling on the House and Senate to “swiftly” pass the bill.