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State

Oil industry donating to Rauner’s campaign

SPRINGFIELD – Oil producers, drilling companies and geologists frustrated with the slow process of implementing rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling are putting their money behind Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reported the Winnetka businessman received almost $240,000 from oil company officials looking to get the process up and running during a July 9 fundraiser in Mt. Vernon.

Most of those funds come from companies who want the permit process to be up and running as soon as possible.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation last year that authorized the process commonly known as fracking, which uses a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to crack and hold open thick rock formations, releasing trapped oil and gas. But the Department of Natural Resources has spent months holding hearings and gathering more than 30,000 comments on the best way to regulate the drilling method.

Mount Vernon-based oil producer Nelson Wood co-hosted the July 9 fundraiser.

He said the state is being “held back” from an economic surge that oil booms have created in other states.

“We have the potential for the same thing to happen in Illinois,” Wood said, adding “some people have already left.”

The flood of donations to Rauner from fracking industry officials come as the Department of Natural Resources is expected to submit proposed fracking rules to the Illinois Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules on Friday.

The 12-member panel has 45 days to sign off on the suggested rules, change them or prohibit their filing.

The department faces a Nov. 15 deadline for the rules to be established.

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