Illinois is a ways off from allowing oil and gas drillers to begin "fracking" but companies that are interested can begin the paperwork.
Environmentalists lost their fight to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Lawmakers instead decided to open Illinois to a practice that's been an economic boon in other states.
Still - legislators say the law they passed to regulate fracking has the strongest safeguards in the nation. That includes a multi-step process before a company can use the method to access oil and gas deep underground. The first phase is underway, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud says companies can now register.
"The point of clarification is: we're not at the point where we are starting to accept permit applications, we are merely giving companies the ability to register with us, which would then indicate their intent to at some point apply for a permit," he says.
McCloud says it's the permit that will detail where a company wants to "frack," and how deep they expect to drill. He says the public and legisaltors will have a chance to comment before rules for permits are put in place.