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Study: Many unknowns but gas could mean Ill. jobs

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 4:30 p.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN (AP) — A new study paid for by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce says the New Albany Shale formation in southern Illinois could generate more than 40,000 jobs and $9 billion for the state if natural gas exploration and production take off. But the future and the formation are too unknown to be sure.

The chamber's Mike Wolf said Thursday that the study was done to give lawmakers an idea about the formation's economic potential. Lawmakers are considering regulation of drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracking. Illinois Geological Survey Director Don McKay says the formation's geology suggests it may never be capable of producing a boom.

The study was conducted by Illinois State University economist David Loomis. He acknowledged there are many unknowns when evaluating the formation.

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