Illinois must adopt ‘fracking’ rules, hire experts

CHICAGO (AP) — High-volume oil and gas extraction probably won’t begin in earnest in Illinois until next year, even though a bill establishing the nation’s toughest regulations sailed through the Legislature.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources first must adopt rules to mirror the regulations and hire dozens of new engineers, inspectors, lawyers and other experts.

Industry and environmental groups say preparations could take many months to a year.

Gov. Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” hoping the industry creates thousands of jobs in southern Illinois. Oil companies already have leased hundreds of thousands of acres.

Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, chemicals and sand to crack rock formations deep underground to release oil and gas.

Opponents fear it will pollute and deplete water resources.

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