Quinn Signs Fracking Regulations Into Law

Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law what’s touted as the nation’s toughest regulations on “fracking.”

While some environmental groups signed on to the compromise law, others - like these activists protesting at the Capitol - remain opposed to anything but a moratorium on fracking.

While some environmental groups signed on to the compromise law, others – like these activists protesting at the Capitol – remain opposed to anything but a moratorium on fracking.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing is a controversial process used to reach oil and natural gas deep underground. The director of the Illinois Environmental Council, Jen Walling, says she wishes the state would ban the practice. But she says given that fracking’s already happening in Illinois, her group and other major environmental organizations agreed to the new law. Walling says it sets stringent, comprehensive standards drillers must follow.

“We don’t allow open pits storage of waste water afterward. This has been a huge problem in other states,” she says.  “Our law requires that all waste water be kept in closed loop tanks. That’s a really big deal.”

It’s expected to be a while before fracking really gets underway, though. The state has to draft rules, hire inspectors and issue permits. Business groups say as many as 50-thousand jobs could be created … mostly in economically hard-hit southern Illinois. They also say Illinois should reap millions of dollars in taxes and fees.

-Amanda Vinicky

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One Response to Quinn Signs Fracking Regulations Into Law

  1. Mike Hayes says:

    Subject: Fracking, comparing bills in Illinois and California

    California bill: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB4&search_keywords= is the location of the California bill.

    Section 3160 (d) (6) provides that:

    (A) A property owner notified pursuant to paragraph (5) may request the regional water quality control board to perform water quality sampling and testing on any water well suitable for drinking or irrigation purposes and on any surface water suitable for drinking or irrigation purposes as follows:

    (i) Baseline measurements prior to the commencement of the hydraulic fracturing treatment.

    (ii) Followup measurements after the hydraulic fracturing treatment on the same schedule as the pressure testing of the well casing of the hydraulically-fractured well.

    (B) The regional water quality control board may contract with an independent third party that adheres to board-specified standards and protocols to perform the water sampling and testing.

    http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/06/single-fracking-bill-remains-before-california-legislature.html indicates that the sponsor is expecting a decision by the legislative committee, following a 28 to 11 “greenlighting” floor vote in the California senate.

    Illinois bill: That bill (see specifics following this summary):

    (1) denies authority to any regulatory agency to require groundwater monitoring in the vicinity of fracking operations; and,

    (2) delays the requirement for a fracking operation to conduct any water supply sampling (to determine whether contamination is occurring), until six months after a fracking operation ceases; and,

    (3) provides ample opportunity for a fracking operation to claim trade secret status for chemicals it uses.

    I could have this wrong, but I think that third provision probably denies the opportunity to any nearby water supply to, itself, conduct sampling of groundwater, targeting those “trade secret” chemicals, at sampling wells (on land owned by it or owned by a willing landowner), located nearer to the fracking operation than the water supply itself, to determine in advance whether any contamination will likely impact the water supply.

    I think the California bill is probably a big improvement, in that respect.

    Specifics of the Illinois bill, regarding water supple monitoring: On page 75 there is a provision in Section I-80: Water Quality Monitoring, part (b), prohibiting any requirement for installation of a ground water monitoring well:

    “… Installation of a groundwater monitoring well is not required to satisfy the sampling requirements of this Section…”.

    On page 76 there is a provision in Section I-80 (c), that the company would not be required to begin collecting and analyzing samples until 6 months after the fracking operation has ceased operation:

    “… After baseline tests are conducted under subsection (b) 2 of this Section and following issuance of a permit by the Department, the permittee shall have all water sources which are subjected to sampling under subsection (b) of this Section sampled and tested in the same manner 6 months, 18 months, and 30 months after the high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations have been completed…”.

    Section I-35 (b)(8) (page 18) and I-77 (a) (page 67) and (f) (page 68) do not require an owner/manager of a fracking operation to publicly identify the chemicals that will be used in the fracking operation:

    “… (8) unless the applicant documents why the information is not available at the time the application is submitted, a chemical disclosure report identifying each chemical and proppant anticipated to be used in hydraulic fracturing fluid for each stage of the hydraulic fracturing operations including the following:…”.

    “… (a) If the chemical disclosure information required by paragraph (8) of subsection (b) of Section 1-35 of this Act is not submitted at the time of permit application, then the permittee, applicant, or person who will perform high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations at the well shall submit this information to the Department in electronic format no less than 21 calendar days prior to performing the high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations…”.

    “… (f) Where an applicant, permittee, or the person performing high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations furnishes chemical disclosure information to the Department under this Section, Section 1-35, or Section 1-75 of this Act under a claim of trade secret, the applicant, permittee, or person performing high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations shall submit redacted and un-redacted copies of the documents containing the information to the Department and the Department shall use the redacted copies when posting materials on its website.”

    I agree with the characterization that Illinois is part of the “wild west”, for campaign finance!

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