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Friday, Dec 14, 2012

* A new study conducted for the Illinois Chamber claims that fracking could bring big bucks and lots of jobs to Illinois

Hydraulic fracturing in Southern Illinois has the potential to create more than 47,000 jobs and more than $9.5 billion in economic impact, according to a study released Thursday by the Illinois Chamber Foundation.

The study, conducted over the last four months, is the first of its kind to focus entirely on the state’s potential with regard to increased horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the chamber said. The study, based on the potential of the state’s New Albany shale field, was administered by economist David Loomis, a professor at Illinois State University.

Laying out three possible scenarios for exploring natural gas production — low, medium and high — Mr. Loomis determined a range of economic outcomes that could benefit Illinois based on the amount of labor and equipment supplied from inside and outside the state.

But

Illinois Geological Survey Director Don McKay cautioned that the formation may never be capable of producing a boom, based on the work of the agency’s recently retired expert on the subject, David Morse.

“His assessment is that our New Albany Shale resource in Illinois probably doesn’t contain a lot of gas,” McKay said. “Our shale because of its geological history was not subjected to the high temperatures for the long range of time that would be required.”

And

Chamber member Tom Wolf said the business group hopes lawmakers consider those potential effects as they work on Senate Bill 3280. The legislation would set up regulations for hydraulic fracturing, which detractors call fracking, and other drilling techniques that would be used to explore the New Albany formation.

“The industry’s at the table because they want a road map that helps them in the long term,” Wolf said, adding that the oil and gas industry hopes to talk the state out of setting fees to mitigate wear and tear on roads and impacts on the environment before it knows what the formation might produce. “What I’m trying to avoid is impact fees and taxes based on the hope that this (drilling) will come about and that would scare people away.”

* Moody’s lowered Illinois’ credit outlook from “stable” to “negative” yesterday

“The negative outlook reflects our view that the state’s pension funding pressures are likely to persist and perhaps worsen in the near term,” Moody’s said in its report. “Moreover, fiscal 2014 marks the last year before Illinois’ 2011 income tax increases are partly unwound, putting the state on track to deal with simultaneous growth in pension funding needs and loss of revenue.”

Moody’s also pointed out that any steps likely to be taken to reform the pension system will almost certainly be challenged because the state’s constitution protects retiree benefits.

But Moody’s kept the state’s abysmal rating in place. This was mainly just a warning shot across the General Assembly’s bow ahead of the January lame duck session.

* We covered this yesterday

Gay marriage supporters said Thursday they are “within striking distance” of passing a bill that for the first time would let same-sex couples be legally wed in Illinois. […]

The two Chicago Democrats said they plan to put up the same-sex marriage bill for a vote, and they indicated they wouldn’t do that without believing it would pass. It’s a tough vote for some lawmakers to take.

But

The move carried the practical effect of mobilizing gay activists to lobby lawmakers over the holidays but also represented a tossing down of the gauntlet on the issue, revving up opponents for an intense battle. […]

[Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois] knew of no lawmakers whose positions had switched from opposition to support of gay marriage

- Posted by Rich Miller        


13 Comments
  1. - western illinois - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 12:40 pm:

    The other downgrade had a huge effect on interest rates…..

    Somehow I think guns will be the big topic


  2. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:07 pm:

    ==the oil and gas industry hopes to talk the state out of setting fees to mitigate wear and tear on roads and impacts on the environment before it knows what the formation might produce==

    The fees should be set to mitigate the costs of development, and they should be set as soon as possible so the industry and local governments can accurately weigh the costs vs the benefits of development.


  3. - steve schnorf - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    they’ve been fracking in southeast Illinois for a long time, and I’ve never seen or heard anyone consider the term derogatory


  4. - reformer - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:19 pm:

    One variablr is whether The Speaker permits his targets to vote for it.


  5. - State Worker - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 1:40 pm:

    The bottom line on pensions is that the state MUST pay the people who earned their pensions and cut out the spending on people who do not earn anything. Stop the giveaways and pay your bills!!! Pension reform was done in 1995 with the RAMP. Stick to it!!!


  6. - Crime Fighter - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 2:18 pm:

    If the Illinois Chamber & Moody’s says so, it MUST be true, they are such reliable sources.(Snnnaaarkkk)


  7. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:10 pm:

    - Pension reform was done in 1995 with the RAMP. Stick to it!!! -

    The RAMP is part of the problem, not sustainable.


  8. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:14 pm:

    It’s about time someone started publicizing the potential impact of this new wave of development.

    Steve’s right. It’s been called fracking for decades, except the industry doesn’t use a “k” in the spelling since it’s an abbreviated version of fracturing.

    The new part in Illinois is the horizontal drilling, and the combination thereof.

    The problem with the legislation supported by the Speaker this spring is that it made no distinction between the current drilling and the new techniques. They were quite close to killing the proverbial golden goose with high taxes, as well as destroying the existing marginal industry.

    As far as McKay’s comment, they’re not just looking at the New Albany Shale formation. There are other formations and according to the Oil and Gas Assocation it’s clear to them from the ongoing leasing operations that their are other plays taking place as well.


  9. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:22 pm:

    On pensions, is it possible to recharacterize salaries to only include a percentage of it or max limit on the pensionable amount or possibly recharacterize the entire position to be non-pensionable? I know the U of I has several non-pensionable employee categories such as Academic Hourly so I’m just wondering if the threat of moving positions out of participating in the system would be a constitutional way to force acceptance for a pension change. Not saying it’s fair, just wondering if it’s even an option.


  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:24 pm:

    ===Pension reform was done in 1995 with the RAMP. Stick to it!!!===

    An artificial, man-made construct. The ramp wasn’t made by God, but people, and people can change laws whenever they get a majority. It was also needlessly backloaded, which is what is causing the real problem today.


  11. - Thomas - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:31 pm:

    Doesn’t the Supreme Court’s announcement that they’ll take up gay marriage give legislators who are a little relunctant to vote on this issue an opportunity to ask for a delay? It reminds me of how the GA handled health exchanges last Spring. A lot of members didn’t want to take that vote until the Supremes issued their Obamacare decision. I doubt SCOTUS will legalize gay marriage, but if your in a conservative leaning district why vote to support gay marriage if the Supremes might do it for you?


  12. - State Worker - Friday, Dec 14, 12 @ 3:55 pm:

    Rich - All laws are “an artificial, man-made construct”. I agree it is too steep. What is funny is that in the 70’s the pension systems were funded at about the same level as they are today. Now they call it an emergency??? It has been the same for over 40 years. And, the real problem is that politicians did not appropriate required funds for the pension system choosing instead to spend money on other things that were nice but not necessary.


  13. - PublicServant - Saturday, Dec 15, 12 @ 5:37 am:

    Rich, thanks for pointing out that the pension ramp is “the real problem today”. Not only are the ramp structure’s backloaded payments unsustainable, an additional issue is how the ramp payments are being used by IPI, the Civic Committee, and Quinn to state that the pensions themselves are unsustainable. A new, sustainable amortization schedule needs to replace the current ramp. No more payment deferrals. No more uninformed, illegal pension bills.


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