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Coalition says Ill. 'fracking' bill ready for vote

CHICAGO (AP) -- Supporters of high-volume oil and gas drilling say a bill to regulate the practice in Illinois is ready for a vote after last-minute negotiations over hiring and environmental concerns.

The House bill was introduced in February with strong support but became stalled over an amendment requiring energy companies to hire Illinois-licensed water well drillers. Instead, companies will get a break on severance or "extraction" taxes if more than half their workers are from Illinois and receive prevailing wages.

Industry and environmental groups also revised the definition of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," based on the volume of water used.

Fracking uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack rock formations and release oil and natural gas.

Supporters say fracking will create jobs; opponents worry about pollution.