What does Illinois think about 'fracking'?
January 29, 2013—Last week more than 1,100 consumers took CUB's survey on "fracking"—a process that involves drilling deep into underground shale rock and then pumping in chemicals, water and sand to extract oil and gas.

Proponents of fracking cite lower natural gas prices and economic benefits, while opponents of the process warn against potential water contamination and land damage. Virtually no fracking regulations exist in Illinois, but state legislators could act this spring. One proposal being considered would require energy companies to pay an extraction fee for fracking projects to help the state budget.

So, what do Illinois consumers think?

Nearly 58 percent of survey respondents favored "fracking," but the majority of those stipulated that strong environmental protections would first have to be in place.

"Companies should not have the freedom to come into our state without regulations and responsibilities," said Marilyn, of Marissa.

"Appropriately regulated fracking can have a huge and very long term benefit for our economy and security," said Brian, of Long Grove.

"Go for it. We need the jobs," said Dennis, of Shorewood.

But roughly 38 percent were against the process entirely, citing water contamination as the biggest potential risk.

"Companies take shortcuts and people make mistakes," said Deena, of Aurora. "The potential for contaminating our water and land is just too great to risk it."

"Clean water is by far the most important natural resource," said Barry, of DeKalb.

Many consumers wanted more information about the process before making a decision.

"I think we need to know a lot more about the effect of fracking on the environment before we jump into allowing much of it to go on," said Nancy, of Champaign.

The majority of consumers—more than 70 percent—favored imposing an extraction fee on energy companies that frack in Illinois.

CUB will keep consumers updated on the process and potential legislation in Springfield. For now, see the complete results of our survey below.

1. How would you describe your stance on "fracking" in Illinois?
•  Against fracking: 38.1 percent
•  In favor of fracking, but only with stronger environmental protections: 34.1 percent
•  In favor of fracking, with no further regulations: 23.4 percent
•  Not sure: 4.4 percent

2. What is the biggest potential benefit to fracking in Illinois?
•  Potential benefits don't outweigh potential risks: 37.1 percent
•  Pumping money into Illinois' economy: 26.6 percent
•  Lower natural gas prices: 18.2 percent
•  Job creation: 18.2 percent

3. What is the biggest potential risk of fracking?
•  Water contamination: 57.7 percent
•  Potential risks don't outweigh potential benefits: 32 percent
•  Land damage: 5.3 percent
•  Water waste: 0.1 percent

4. Would you support a state tax or "extraction fee" on companies based on the amount of natural gas they take from Illinois?
•  Yes: 70.8 percent
•  No: 29.2 percent

Want to give your opinion? Take CUB's fracking survey now!