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Fracking Opponents In Illinois See New Opportunity

Environmental groups in Illinois are renewing their push to stop fracking in Illinois before it starts. 

In November, a Kansas-based company withdrew its permit to drill for oil and gas in southeastern Illinois. It was the first permit for large-scale fracking Illinois issued since a 2014 law went into effect. 

An executive for Woolsey Operating Company called the process “burdensome, time-consuming and costly.”

But environmentalists view the withdraw as a win. Fracking opponents now want to take current regulations a step further.

They want to get rid of what’s called forced pooling, a part of the 2014 law that allows gas companies to drill under a person’s property without their permission as long as the majority of their neighbors have agreed to let the company drill.

Jessica Fujan is Midwest director of Food and Water Watch.

“We believe that by eliminating forced pooling and giving people expanded property rights, we will see fracking ended or diminished in the state of Illinois.”

Fracking blasts water and chemicals underground to release oil and gas from beneath rock. 

Opponents like Fujan say drilling poses risks to health and the environment, while supporters say fracking is safe. 

"There are still companies that are registered as frackers on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ website. We do not want those companies to have an opportunity to begin a new industrial drilling practice when renewables is what we need," Fujan said.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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