Illinois Revises Fracking Regs

In August, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted an extensive draft of rules regulating high-volume oil and gas drilling to the Illinois legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee has 77 days to approve the rules after they are submitted. The regulations contain modifications that have raised concerns from both anti-fracking activists and supporters of oil and gas development.

Supporters of fracking say that the revisions go well past restrictions implemented by the original legislation. The Chicago Tribune reports that “[Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating office of the pro-fracking Illinois Manufacturers’ Association] sees additional setbacks in the rules for well bores that aren’t required in state law. Denzler said traffic management requirements with local officials go too far compared with the law.

‘Quite frankly the department probably should have sat down with both sides and tried to work this out,’ he said, adding that the lengthy review process combined with the flood of comments made the whole process ‘flawed.’”

Environmentalists are concerned that the regulations do not go far enough to prevent potential groundwater and air pollution and are still seeking an outright ban on fracking in Illinois.

The Associated Press reports that:

“The DNR reworded some rules after receiving more than 30,000 comments on a draft it released late last year.

Among the changes, the agency clarified that companies must be available 24 hours a day to divulge the chemicals they’re using to health care workers treating patients. Companies typically say their mixtures are trade secrets, and the DNR received complaints that the original draft made it too difficult to get the information quickly.

Language was changed to specify that any wastewater overflow stored in pits during an emergency must be removed from the pits and stored in closed tanks within seven days. The DNR also agreed that the new rules apply to existing oil and gas wells.”

If the rules are not approved by November 17, the DNR must restart the comment and draft period again.