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Fracking finally moves forward

Illinois approved a fracking bill in June 2013 that was considered a model of political compromise – and then the really tough fights over implementing the law began.

The first set of rules drafted by the state Department of Natural Resources were criticized as too lax, and the second set too restrictive. This month some opponents went to court in Madison County to try to stop the publication of the third set of rules, arguing that the state didn’t follow its own rules on rule making.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder last week correctly decided that publishing the rules would do no one any irreparable harm and refused the opponents’ request for a preliminary injunction. As she pointed out, the state is still months away from the start of any drilling.

The lawsuit proceeds, but it seems built on a pretty shaky foundation. The state has spent months and months making fracking rules. It has listened to thousands of comments, pro and con, and made multiple changes to appease concerns raised by both sides. If there’s a complaint about the rule-making process, it’s that it has dragged on too long.

Lawmakers approved fracking for the jobs and the oil it could produce. Whether fracking lives up to the hype is debatable. But for benefits to occur, Illinois has to get to implementation.

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