In a rare instance of bipartisan common sense, Illinois recently enacted sweeping legislation regulating horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The bill was carefully crafted with input from those in the oil industry, as well as some environmental groups.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, supports the process — known commonly as fracking — while providing some common-sense guidelines that should assuage the concern of those way of the practice.

The bill’s signing came shortly after I visited what may be the state’s first fracking site, in Wayne County. An Oklahoma company put in an exploratory well on a farm there after purchasing mineral rights from the land’s owner.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by companies to landowners in the southern portion of the state for rights to the oil and gas underground.

At the least, it could put extra money in the pockets of farmers and others in a region whose soil doesn’t regularly produce 200-bushel corn. At most, successful drilling could usher in a new age of prosperity in southern Illinois, a rural area whose counties are routinely socked with high unemployment and poverty levels.

The political agreement is a true victory over the forces in our midst resisting progress. The message shared by these groups has morphed from support of environmental stewardship to a rejection of virtually anything involving modern technology.

Agriculture has especially been touched — and hampered — by these forces. Companies producing genetically modified seeds, effective chemical treatments and modern equipment have been opposed at nearly every turn by those who seem to prefer the horse-and-single-bottom-plow method of farming.

In the end, we must be conscious of the century in which we dwell. This is 2013, not 1813, 1913 or even 1993. Progress isn’t a bad word.

One has to wonder that if those opposing modern industry also would have opposed innovations that modernized our world more than a century ago. Would they have rejected the automobile, telephone or electricity?

After all, these things all carry risks. People die in car crashes, people accidentally get electrocuted and so on.

Fracking opponents such as the group with the cutesy acronym SAFE — Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment — pushed for a moratorium of at least a year on the process in order to wait for the results of “further studies.”

But it’s hard to believe that such groups would have ever supported an end to such a moratorium, regardless of the outcome of any study.

Among other things, the legislation passed in Illinois provides a clear legal recourse in case companies don’t follow proper procedures in drilling and cause some damage. And with progress, accidents do happen — it’s inevitable.

The BP offshore oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico definitely created some misery and hurt the regional economy. The same can be said for the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill in Alaska, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant leak and other accidents. But we have recovered from them.

As with anything, one must weigh the benefits against the risks of any endeavor. After all, millions of Americans have been killed in automobile crashes since the first Model T rolled off the assembly line.

But it certainly would be silly to ban cars because they’re not 100-percent safe or to outlaw drugs controlling diabetes because there are side effects.

The same thinking should hold for advances in energy and agriculture — which, by the way, go hand in hand in today’s world.