The unemployment rate in the State of Illinois is 9.5 percent, significantly above the national average of 7.7 percent. So the creation of new jobs in the state would seem to be a top priority. However, last week, regulators and unions found a new way to kill job growth, by blocking the development of hydraulic fracturing in the state.
A bill authorizing fracking has been before the Illinois legislature for ten months, but at the last minute, an amendment was proposed that would require the fracking contractors to acquire a well-drilling license before beginning operations. There currently is no system to grant the contractors such a permit, and it will take, apparently, three years to do so. Until then, a contractor with an Illinois water license would be required at every fracking site — and surprise, surprise, those contractors are often members of Operating Engineers Local 150. But the oil-and-gas firms say that, no matter what, the amendment would mean drilling will be postponed for more than a year, and they may decide not to develop in Illiniois altogether.