December 8, 2022

Illinois fracking rules, political climate holding production back

With the continued rise in energy prices, some see an open door for fracking to begin in Illinois, but any such moves could be a year out because of strict regulations.

Mark Denzler, CEO and president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, said the circumstances now appear to be right for new energy exploration in the country, but there are complications.

“We have the shale play [in Illinois],” Denzler said. “The shale is not going anywhere. I think someday it will be tapped. It will be used as a resource. But again, because of the difficult regulatory environment in Illinois, it’s not going to be at the top of anybody’s list.”

The New Albany Shale formation in southeastern Illinois has been a major focus of past fracking discussions. Recoverable shale gas in New Albany has been estimated to be at least 2-trillion cubic feet and it also features significant deposits of oil shale.

“It’s not only used for energy, but natural gas is the feedstock for plastic,” Denzler said. “It is the feedstock for fertilizer and many other products. Keep in mind, it doesn’t always go into the tank. It’s often used as a feedstock for other products.”

Nearly a decade ago, Denzler was part of a coalition that successfully pushed for a law allowing and regulating fracking in the state. But by the time rules were written, economic conditions had changed and no full operations ever began.

“We passed the hydraulic fracking bill in Illinois during the [Pat Quinn] administration, and then it took the governor over 500 days to promulgate rules,” Denzler said. “And when he did, Gov. Quinn imposed some of the most draconian rules on the oil and gas industry nationally.”

Denzler said any companies looking to expand operations here likely would be at least 12 months away from starting.

“There’s a lengthy permit process, an open and transparent process, by which groups could weigh in in favor or against it,” Denzler said. “And they would have to get a permit from the Department of Natural Resources.”

It’s possible the Illinois Department of Natural Resources could revisit the rules and regulations to encourage development, but Denzler isn’t optimistic about any changes.

“Given the political climate, I would imagine it would be very difficult for them to do it,” Denzler said. “However, there’s going to be more pain at the pump. It makes sense for the United States and for Illinois to be part of this energy revolution with hydraulic fracking that provides economic and geopolitical security.”

A previous study by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce found fracking could create up to 47,000 jobs in the state and could have a $9.5 billion economic impact.

This article was originally posted on Illinois fracking rules, political climate holding production back

Sydney Boles