Johnson County has joined other counties in southern Illinois supporting a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Vice Chairman Phil Stewart was the one Johnson County Commissioner who did not support the one-year moratorium. He says the area needs the jobs.
“Johnson County is, you know, a poor county, needs some revenue,” Stewart says. “And I think it would help.”
But, Stewart says most of the jobs would be temporary.
Commissioner Ernie Henshaw was one of the two commissioners who supported the moratorium. Henshaw says while other nearby counties support a two-year moratorium, Johnson County suggests a one-year pause.
“Quite honestly, it’s more of a symbolic thing,” he says. “Potentially the state of Illinois is going to pass a fracking bill this week. So of course if that happens, that of course will override anything that we did on the county levels.”
The regulations unanimously passed a state House committee vote today (Tuesday) and are headed to a full House vote. They require companies to test water and disclose the chemicals they use in addition to holding them liable for contamination.
Henshaw says gas and oil companies could begin anytime because there is no legislation against fracking in Illinois. But he says they are waiting to see what the state legislature does before beginning the work on land leased from 188 landowners in the county.
Southern Illinois is home to the New Albany Shale which companies believe hold carbon fuels that could be extracted by fracking.