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Public Comment Period Opens For Illinois 'Fracking' Legislation

(via U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is seeking public feedback on the state's first-ever regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling.

The DNR publishedproposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing today, which begins a public comment period that will last until Jan. 3.

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a drilling method that uses large volumes of high-pressure water, sand or gravel, and chemical mixtures  to crack underground rock formations and release oil and natural gas.

Federally, hydraulic fracturing is largely exempt from regulations protecting air and water quality by the  Energy Policy Act of 2005.

In Illinois, hydraulic fracturing isalready underway. Prior to this summer's passage of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, energy companies were not required to disclose the drilling method being employed.

But regulations signed into law by Governor Quinn in June are hailed as among the toughest in the nation. The DNR must adopt rules to reflect the law.

The DNR plans to hold two public hearings on the regulations - one in Chicago on Nov. 26 and one in the southern Illinois town of Ina on Dec. 3. People may also submit written comments.

Follow Sarah Skiöld-Hanlin on Twitter@Skihan