Illinois clears the way for fracking

A committee in Illinois has approved rules for hydraulic fracturing, clearing the way for the controversial oil and gas recovery process in the state.

The regulations, approved Thursday, are a secret, and won’t be unveiled until Nov. 15, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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The process of proposing and writing the rules has been controversial.

Environmentalists complained that the first draft of the rules from the state’s natural resources department was too loose, but the oil and gas industry thought the second draft was too restrictive and would effectively keep fracking out of Illinois.

Now that the rules are finalized, no one except the committee knows whose concerns were taken into account, the Tribune said. Green groups felt that they were left out of the three-month, behind-closed-doors process of considering changes.

Fracking is not likely to come to the state until well into next year. Companies still need to submit applications, have them reviewed and pay for permits, which are subject to public notice and comment.

But some energy companies have already invested millions to lease mineral rights in the state in anticipation of the fracking rules, the Tribune reported.