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Illinois state senator Don Harmon. Image courtesy of IL State Senator Kwame Raoul/Youtube.

Illinois lawmakers unanimously approved regulations for high volume unconventional oil and gas drilling Thursday, clearing the way for companies to start applying for permits.

The state has not detailed how it plans to fund hiring new regulatory employees to enforce the rules.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller said his department has hired 32 of the 53 new regulatory employees that will oversee unconventional drillers.

However, Miller said budget pressure will make it difficult to keep adding staff.

State official and legislators have been writing and revising the rules for over a year.

“All of the changes that were made were because the earlier proposed rules were inconsistent with the statute,” said Democratic state senator Don Harmon told the Associated Press.

The final rules must be officially submitted for publication to Illinois’ Secretary of State by November 15.

Changes to the rules requested by environmentalist groups made it into the final version of the bill including restrictions on storing wastewater in open pits for more than a week.

The rules also stipulate that public hearings concerning permits can not be held further than 30 miles away from the proposed well site.

Drillers can begin filing for permits 30 days after registering with the state.

Permits must be approved or refused within 60 days of the application.