Franklin County Board member Tom Vaughn reported on his trip to Springfield as he listened to discussions pertaining to hydraulic fracturing or fracking during the March 4 committee meetings.
He said approximately five speakers presented different points of view on the subject adding environmentalists and gas and oil company representatives spoke at the meeting held earlier that day.
Vaughn said House Bill 2615, sponsored by Rep. John Bradley, includes provisions for protecting against water pollution.
He said the provision is stronger than any other state in the nation.
Vaughn said the bill calls for water used in fracking to be stored in closed tanks and the water would be closely monitored before and after the fracking process.
Chuck Paprocki, a member of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE), expressed concern about horizontal fracking during the February County Board meeting. He wants ounty boards to have control over the measure saying fracking would place extreme demand on local water supplies and could negatively impact local residents' access to water.
Vaughn said local control has been left out of the bill under Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack open thick rock formations and release trapped oil and gas. Vaughn said the list of chemicals used would be available to board members via a website.
County Emergency Management Agency Director Ryan M. Buckingham said he wants to be advised of the chemicals used.
He said the agency maintains a list of hazardous chemicals that are transported on county highways, by rail and via the interstate. Buckingham said 69 facilities throughout the county currently house hazardous chemicals.
Vaughn said public notices, public hearings and notices pertaining to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regulations would be posted in the newspaper.
He said fracking would not be conducted statewide adding Saline County is of particular interest due to the New Albany shale that lies beneath the earth's surface. He said drilling is done a mile below ground to extract oil and gas from the shale.
Vaughn said fracking, if approved, would be done in the southeastern part of the state.
Vaughn said because drilling is done only 5,000 feet below ground, a geologist dispelled the rumors that the drilling could potentially cause seismic activity.
He said technology to extract oil and gas has been around for a number of years adding fracking in Illinois is not a done deal.
"Home Rule communities can regulate fracking," Vaughn said. He said he asked questions about transparency and fees associated with fracking and was told fees and excise taxes would be imposed.
Vaughn said New York has a moratorium on fracking until studies from Pennsylvania have been reviewed.
Board members discussed possible damage to roadways due to water being transported from the fracking sites. County Highway Superintendent Mike Rolla said state and county road and bridge weight limits would apply adding any damage to the roads would have to be repaired by the company that causes the damage.
A synopsis of the bill creates the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act and prohibits high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations performed without a permit.
The proposed bill regulates where high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations are proposed, planned, or are occurring and provides requirements for permit applications, modification, suspension and revocation of permits, insurance, well construction and drilling.
The bill was assigned to the state's review and finance committee on March 4. The first reading of the house bill was conducted on Feb. 21.