ST. LOUIS (AP) — Several southern Illinois counties are sampling the fruits of a land rush linked to a debated drilling practice, even as state lawmakers wrestle with how to regulate it.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of fees have flowed in recent years into the coffers of Wayne and Hamilton counties from searches of title records, often by out-of-state people seeking prime parcels for exploration.
Locals believe the best is yet to come from the drilling technique commonly called "fracking."
Hydraulic fracturing uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations and release oil and natural gas.
Some environmentalists worry that could pollute. But Governor Pat Quinn and the industry believe it could create by some estimates some 40,000 jobs.
The Southeast Missourian reports that the Missouri mining industry stands to gain from an increased need for silica sand, which is used in the process of large-scale hydraulic fracturing - or fracking.
Missouri is not an abundant resource of oil or natural gas, but it is a resource for silica sand. The silica sand is critical for the process of fracking.
Environmentalists in Missouri say there is concern that expanded sand mining will cause environmental damage.
The January 2013 Mineral Commodity Summary by the U.S. Geological Survey says Missouri is the sixth-largest producer of industrial sand and gravel.
Madigan said today he supports a temporary ban on the drilling practice that critics say causes air and water pollution. Lawmakers are working on a bill to regulate the practice that drillers say is safe.
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," held a rally and lobbied Illinois legislators Tuesday. They're hoping to win support for a two-year moratorium on the practice instead of regulations that would allow it.
Fracking opponents say they were ignored during negotiations over a regulatory bill, which proponents say would give Illinois the nation's toughest regulations.
Protesters say they fear the water around their southern Illinois homes could be polluted by the practice.
Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations to release oil and natural gas.