IDNR releases fracking rules

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

The long-awaited rules on hydraulic fracturing (commonly referred to as “fracking”) have been released by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

The guidelines come after months of delays and thousands of public comments IDNR officials say helped compile their final draft. The 150-page report was given to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) Friday, Aug. 29. The rules will take effect in 45 days.

As the agency charged with standing up a brand-new regulatory program, it was important that our staff took the time needed to consider all the public feedback and do the job right,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said. “We believe the revised rules submitted to JCAR today accurately reflect the intent of the law, and take into account the concerns of our constituents.”

The rules include a detailed drilling application, one the IDNR can reject within a day of submission but has up to 60 days to approve if it accompanies necessary paperwork. Drilling companies must submit lists of chemicals used in fracking. A redacted version of the lists will be made available to the public through the IDNR.

A highly contested practice, fracking uses a mixture of sand, water and various chemicals to tap underground rock formations for oil and gas. While fracking is at the center of oil booms in other states, opponents here fear it will result in a variety of problems that outweigh the benefits. Environmental groups believe mercury, radium, lead and other chemical elements used in fracking fluids will leach into groundwater.

Because the 150-mile New Madrid fault zone is active, adding to its 1,000 earthquakes since 2010 is anything but desirable, fracking opponents say. Industry experts claim quakes can be regulated by safe drilling.

From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue

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