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Fracking legislation passes State Legislature at the eleventh hour

Ann Alexander

Posted May 31, 2013

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 By an overwhelming margin, the Illinois state legislature has passed SB1715, the legislation putting in place regulations governing high volume fracking.  The House passed the bill yesterday 108 to 9, and the Senate passed it tonight 52 to 3 (with 4 voting present).  The moratorium legislation, SB 630, was defeated.

It is unfortunate for Illinois that the moratorium did not pass, despite the support of NRDC and others in the environmental community, as it would have made much more sense to take the time needed to carefully evaluate fracking.  However, passage of the regulatory bill comes truly at the 11th hour – not only because it happened on the last day of session, but because it was almost too late.  NRDC’s research revealed earlier this week that, around the time the last General Assembly session was busy failing to pass any fracking legislation at all, a well operator was busy completing a high-volume fracking operation in White County.

So there was no time to spare in getting protections on the books.  SB2715 is not by any means perfect, but it is a start.  As we have explained many times in the past, current law is little more than a blank check to the oil drilling industry.   SB1715 will at least give the public a voice in the process, and a suite of basic protections.

None of this is going to make fracking safe.  Nor was passing a regulatory bill our first choice.  Plan A was to pass a moratorium to allow careful, deliberate study of the risks of fracking and the full range of regulation that could ameliorate those risks – something we continue to call for.  We have our work cut out for us trying to fix the problems that remain, such as the fact that local governments still have no control over how fracking is conducted within their borders.  But a very bad situation – fracking proceeding with no meaningful law governing it – has been pulled out of the fire, and we now have something to build upon in the days ahead.

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Michael BerndtsonJun 2 2013 09:53 AM

There wasn't a deal made between Chicago and downstate or anything was there? Like support for isolating the Chicago River from Lake Michigan if fracking were to be approved. Quinn seems on board now.

Anyway, regarding the post, what's a suite of basic protections?

I believe the house amendment 001 has actual language associated with hydraulic fracturing in Illinois since the initial senate bill SB 1715 is just a weights and measures thing. Here's the the amendment:

Michael BerndtsonJun 3 2013 10:42 PM

Hey Ann or anyone at NRDC,

Check what our wonderful state politicians did retarding language restricting the use of diesel or any petroleum distillates:

From the initial SB 2615:
(d) It is unlawful to perform any high volume horizontal
1 hydraulic fracturing operations by knowingly or recklessly
2 injecting diesel or any petroleum distillates.

From the final bill SB 1715 Amendment 001:
(d) It is unlawful to perform any high volume horizontal
3 hydraulic fracturing operations by knowingly or recklessly
4 injecting diesel.

Notice the phrase "or any petroleum distillates" is left out?

So O&G can use anything similar to diesel coming somewhere out of a refinery, with similar and possibly more aromatics and whatnot - just as long as it's not called "diesel."

This whole thing is a really weird.

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