Fracking Process and Its Effects in McLean County

This March 12th a presentation on the process of fracking and its effects will be held at the Bloomington Parke Regency Hotel. 

“Fracking is a process in which you are trying to extract, open up, or connect pore spaces in a body of rock through the use of pressurized water or gas.” Robert Bauer, Principal Engineering Geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, said. “Fracking is used for a few different purposes, depending on where the fracking is taking place. Some places pull out oil, some pull out gas, and some places even pull out water. It can also be used to make a storage place in a rock body, for pumping in things like natural gas, that you can retrieve later on.”

Robert Bauer will be guest speaking at the presentation on a number of subjects related to fracking, including oil and gas well construction, a history of horizontal wells, the hydraulic fracturing process, contamination studies from throughout the United States, and more.

Though hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, hadn’t received much attention until the past few years, it has been used commercially in oil wells since 1949, according to Bauer. 

“10% to 20% of all the vertical wells for extraction in Illinois have been hydraulically fractured.” Bauer said. “It has been going on for decades and decades.”

In Illinois hydraulic fracturing is used mostly for oil extraction, and oil resources. Since the McLean County area is not rich in oil resources fracking is not commonly used here, but has been in the past. 

“There are a couple of natural gas storage facilities underground in the McLean County area, that are around 3,500 to 4,000 feet below ground.” Bauer said. “Northern Illinois Gas Company (Nicor) stores natural gas there in the sandstone body. When they need it, like now in the winter, they are able to extract it and send it on its way.”

One of the biggest concerns people often have with fracking is the contamination of groundwater. According to Bauer studies have been done throughout the United States to determine the effects on water supplies. 

“All the studies that have taken place, both pre drilling and post drilling show no contamination associated with the drilling agent and the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.” Bauer says. 

The concern for the environmental impact of fracking caused Illinois to pass the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act in June of 2013. 

The law requires both pre and post-fracturing chemical disclosures and pre and post-fracturing water testing. The law made Illinois the first state to pass such regulations on hydraulic fracturing. 

The presentation, entitled “The Fracking Process and Its Effects”, aims to educate people on what fracking actually is, and dispel many of the popular beliefs about it that aren’t completely accurate. 

The price of registration for the event is $50 and includes dinner. Those wanting to go must register prior to 3/10/2014 through the events website at

For more information on the presentation you can call 312-616-9400 or email 

The presentation starts at 5:30pm on March 12th at the Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center in Bloomington.