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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Making plans: Fracking could be nine months away

  • The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sponsored a fracking conference at Rend Lake College Theater in Ina Tuesday and State Representative John Bradley, (D) Marion, appropriately led of the list of distinguished speakers and local government officials.
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  • The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity sponsored a fracking conference at Rend Lake College Theater in Ina Tuesday and State Representative John Bradley, (D) Marion, appropriately led of the list of distinguished speakers and local government officials.
    Bradley has recently led the Illinois legislature negotiations that forged the toughest fracking regulations for any state in the nation.
    People are set for a potential oil boom in Southern Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act into law on June 17. Quinn says the new law enacts the nation's strongest environmental protections for hydraulic fracturing and has the potential to create thousands of jobs in Southern Illinois.
    Conference speakers had expertise in many fields related to hydraulic fracturing.
    Mitchell Cohen, of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said "The state needs many more inspectors, lawyers and paralegals to enforce the new regulations."
    Robert Bauer, Illinois State Geological Survey, said that "Nationally only 1 to 3 percent of wells have structural problems up to this date."
    That is the result of good enforcement of standards set out in law and responsibility on the part of drillers. He stressed the importance of the pre-drilling inspection of surrounding water sources. If post-drilling water testing finds a problem, the pre-drilling tests become critical in establishing responsibility."
    Pertaining to seismic activity caused by fracking, Bauer said that only two incidents of earthquakes that could be felt have been caused in the Northern Hemisphere oilfields; one in England and one in British Columbia. Both were around 2 on the Richter Scale, which is very mild, he said."
    The usual seismic activity caused by fracking can't be felt on the surface," he said. "It is mild and deep."
    Representing the oil and gas industry, Tom Stewart of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association said, "By 2017 the U.S. could be the world leader in oil and gas production. We have just passed Russia as the leading producer of gas. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have thought that possible."
    Brad Richards, Illinois Oil & Gas Association said, "In Illinois, 500,000 acres have already been leased."
    Mary Ellen Bechtel, Jefferson County Development Corp., said, "The claim has been made that those employed in the oil fields are 75 percent skilled outsiders. We need to provide training in welding, diesel mechanics and truck drivers.
    These jobs pay $50,000 to $60,000 per year," said Bechtel.
    Local colleges intend to train locals to work the oil and gas fields.
    SIC President Jonah Rice said, "We need to be prepared."
    Both Southeastern Illinois College and Rend Lake College were sponsors of the event. Both colleges have recently announced training courses for skills appropriate to the coming oil and gas fields.
    The conference ran on a tight schedule from 8:45 a.m. to the final morning speakers at 11:30 a.m. Among that group of final speakers was Saline County Board's Bob Oglesby.
    Page 2 of 2 - "A number of us from Illinois traveled to Ohio to observe and learn from their experience with fracking. I went out a few days before everyone was scheduled to be there. I wanted to make my own inspection of the area. I interviewed people in restaurants and such. Every comment I got was positive." he said, in a telephone interview following the conference.
    "There are issues. I would like to think about those issues for a long enough time. These road issues, I have already talked to Jeff Jones, the county engineer. I have learned that the oil and gas companies will come in and widen the roads so they can use them and then fix them when they leave. I am a land owner. I do own mineral rights. But I don't want a boom for myself alone."
    Oglesby intends to work with other governmental entities on a plan for Saline County.
    "I want to bring all the townships in Saline County together and get their input when we write our local plan. I have a model from Ohio that I would like to turn into a county wide program for the roads," he said.
    "I am not at the point where I want to start building roads, this is just step one.
    The timetable I have been given says that the energy companies won't be here for nine months."
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