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Time left to offer public comment on fracking

Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:01 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – The public hearings have ended, but state officials said there’s still time to submit public comments on proposed rules for the high-volume oil and gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will take written comments through Jan. 3.

So far, more than 2,750 written comments have been submitted, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph. Those will be used to evaluate possible changes to drafted rules released to the public last month. A legislative panel will give final approval.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed regulations into law earlier this year for “ fracking,” a method of extracting gas and oil trapped deep underground by using mixtures of high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to crack and hold open rock formations. Combined with horizontal drilling, it allows access to formerly out-of-reach deposits.

The regulations were hailed as among the toughest in the nation.

However, some environmentalists and property owners worry fracking will pollute and deplete water resources regardless of regulations. There were also complaints that the time line for public input was compressed. Proponents have said fracking will benefit the local economies and create thousands of jobs.

Republican state Rep. Don Moffitt of Gilson is a member of the legislative panel.

“Even if I disagree with the rules, my job is to implement a law as the Legislature intended,” he said.

State officials held five public hearings on the issue. About 250 people attended the final one in Carbondale last week.

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com

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