Business and labor leaders are urging Illinois' Department of Natural Resources to finish the rules for hydraulic fracturing. The coalition says it's left wondering if the governor's administration might be dragging the process for political reasons.
It's been over 400 days since the General Assembly passed a law to allow hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. Proponents say the technique of drilling for natural gas deep in the ground will lead to job and revenue growth.
Lawmakers are giving up on an attempt to override state regulators in order to jumpstart fracking in Illinois. But they still say Gov. Pat Quinn's administration is dragging its feet on a potential economic boom.
It's been a year since hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, was approved in Illinois. The law was hard-fought, but in the end, industry and environmental interest groups signed off.
Environmentalists in central Illinois are calling for tougher regulations on the coal industry. They say coal companies are using land to profit, then leaving residents with a mess.
Director of the Sierra Club's Illinois Chapter Jack Darin acknowledges the regulations the state already has in place. He says the problem is Illinois' lax enforcement of those laws against coal companies.
"Unless they're held accountable for these actions, then what good are the strongest regulations that the state can write?" he said.
The Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources wants to add black bears, gray wolves and cougars to the state's list of protected species. But there is disagreement on how much protection should be given when there is a safety concern.
On November 20, 2013, a family near Morrison, Ill. asked state conservation police officers to kill a cougar found hiding under a building on their land.
A modest but perceptible uptick in the number of wolves roaming in from Wisconsin has forced Illinois to begin considering the possibility that permanent wolf populations could take hold.
Illinois' wolves were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. But since a first confirmed sighting in 2002, wolf sightings have gone from rare to regular. There have been at least five the last three years. Nearly all are thought to have come from Wisconsin, which has more than 800 wolves.
Dept. of Natural Resources employees have discussed adding cougars to the list of protected species in Illinois.
But in a phone interview with WUIS, IDNR spokesman Tim Schweizer said currently "it’s up to the landowner” to decide whether a potentially threatening animal should be put down.
That's what transpired Wednesday near Morrison, Ill., when a woman and her husband reportedly spotted the large male cougar hiding under their corn crib and asked Conservation Police to dispatch the cat.
Illinois environmental officials say it will be at least a year until the start of hydraulic fracturing in the state. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1aG4YUf ) new state regulations for the practice are nearly complete.
That's according to Marc Miller, the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. But Miller says it will take months before permits are issued. That's because the state still needs to hold public hearings and collect comments.
A fearsome fish whose roots date back 120 million years is getting a second chance in Illinois waterways. The alligator gar had been found as far north as Beardstown within the past century. But the last known catch was in 1966 in Cairo and Illinois officials declared in 1994 that it no longer swam state rivers. The (Springfield) State Journal Register reports Sunday that's changed in recent years with efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce the predator that has inhabited the Mississippi River for three million years.
Illinois state parks are starting to see money from a $2 surcharge on Illinois license plate renewals. The State Journal-Register in Springfield reports (http://bit.ly/1czFIoL) that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is using the money to reduce a $750 million maintenance backlog. Motorists had to start paying the surcharge this year after last year's DNR Sustainability Bill was approved.