What are the risks of tapping Illinois’ trapped oil and natural gas?
Nearly a mile below the surface of southern Illinois, a vast reserve of
oil and natural gas sits locked in thick shale rock. While Illinois has a
long history of tapping into its enormous fossil fuel resources,
unlocking the shale reserve takes a new approach that could bring both
economic windfall and potential for environmental disasters.
new approach is called hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” for short –
and it requires a whole lot of water, sand and toxic chemicals. Fracking
is legal in Illinois, but state lawmakers are considering a measure to
regulate it, while some environmental groups call for an outright ban.
Some states like Texas – which made more than $1.5 billion in revenue
from fracking in its 2012 fiscal year – are wide open for fracking, but
the practice is almost nonexistent in Illinois because oil and gas
companies fear the lack of a regulatory structure that provides
predictability. While the legislation on fracking in Illinois contains
precautionary measures to guard against pollution, some opponents say
the bill doesn’t go far enough. Once you frack, they say, you can’t go