Fracking bill becomes law in Illinois; Quinn predicts jobs potential | News
Governor Pat Quinn has signed Senate Bill 1715 – the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act - into law. The new law enacts the nation’s strongest environmental protections for hydraulic fracturing. The Quinn Administration helped negotiate and draft the legislation.
“This new law will unlock the potential for thousands of jobs in Southern Illinois and ensure that our environment is protected,” Governor Quinn said. “As I said in my budget address, hydraulic fracturing is coming to Illinois with the strongest environmental regulations in the nation. It’s about jobs and it’s about ensuring that our natural resources are protected for future generations. I applaud the many environmental advocates and representatives from government, labor and industry who worked with us to make Illinois a national model for transparency, environmental safety and economic development.”
“This law is an example of what we can achieve when legislators and leaders in both chambers work together in good faith to get something done for the greater good of the people of Illinois,” Quinn added.
Sponsored by State Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), Senate Bill 1715 enacts the most comprehensive set of regulations on hydraulic fracturing in the nation, and includes strong provisions to protect water quality, assure transparency and promote public involvement.
“I’m proud to say these are the strongest, most effective drilling safeguards enacted by any state in the nation,” Sen. Frerichs said. “We know high-volume fracking is already underway in Illinois, and this legislation is needed more than ever to protect the environment while allowing for job creation and economic growth not just in downstate communities but throughout Illinois.”
“This is a historic agreement between the environmental coalition and industry,” Rep. Bradley said. “I appreciate all the hard work of the many people who were involved in this process. It provides for the strongest regulations in the history of the United States, but allows the industry to develop in a responsible manner.”
Hydraulic fracturing is currently permitted without the necessary regulations or protections. Under the new law, Illinois will become the first state in the nation in which hydraulic fracturing operators will be required to submit pre- and post-fracturing chemical disclosures to the state. Knowing exactly what materials are being used will allow the state to better protect consumers and the environment. Additionally, Illinois will become the only state in the nation to require pre- and post-fracturing water testing. Operators will be required to provide a baseline water test prior to the act of hydraulic fracturing and then tests six months, 18 months and 30 months after operations have concluded. Illinois will also require the storage of fluid in above-ground closed tanks, rather than traditional pits.
The law includes public participation requirements, including a mandatory 30-day public comment period, a public hearing opportunity and a 15-day follow-up public comment period. The state will consider all submitted written comments and testimony from public hearings when making its decision to approve or deny the permit application.
"This is a monumental achievement for economic development and jobs in Illinois. Hydraulic fracturing will create good-paying jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign source of oil," said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association and a co-founder of the GROW-IL Coalition, a group consisting of three dozen business organizations, labor unions, individual companies and agricultural interests. "We applaud Governor Quinn and members of the General Assembly for developing a strong regulatory framework that will allow industry to flourish while protecting the environment."
Gov. Quinn says the legislation was supported by numerous environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club Illinois, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and Illinois Environmental Council.
“While our community still has concerns about the environmental impacts of this new technology, it is essential for these tough restrictions to become law to protect our communities,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “The environmental community looks forward to working with the governor and agencies to make sure that this bill is strongly enforced."
The new law is the product of extensive negotiations between the Governor’s Office, industry groups, environmental groups, labor unions, legislators, the Attorney General’s Office, and state agencies including the Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), which will manage implementation of the law.
“This new set of regulations gives us the needed authority and resources to protect the environment and manage this method of energy extraction,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said.
“This law represents an unprecedented commitment to environmental protection that will serve as a model for the rest of the country,” IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “IEPA will continue to work with IDNR to make sure that this previously unregulated process is managed safely and responsibly.”
Senate Bill 1715 takes effect immediately.