Illinois is the latest US state to issue a comprehensive set of draft regulatory rules governing hydraulic fracturing. On Friday, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released a 150-page report containing the proposed rules, which will be reviewed by an oversight committee. Committee members have 45 days to block, change, or approve the rules as written. The rules will not go into effect until the committee completes its review.
The proposed regulations are meant to address numerous concerns about Illinois’ existing hydraulic fracturing regulatory structure. Roughly 30,000 comments were submitted to the DNR in response to the existing regulations. DNR director Marc Miller is quoted as saying that his staff had done “a thorough and thoughtful job” in sifting through those comments and preparing the report for committee approval.
The proposed rules contain stricter disclosure requirements with respect to the chemicals contained in fracking fluid. They also address regulations concerning open-pit wastewater storage. Public permit hearings must be held within a certain number of miles of a proposed well site. Permits, under the proposed rules, must be approved or denied within 60 days.
Once the rules are approved, drillers could begin applying for permits later this fall. It is believed that southern Illinois contains rich deposits of natural gas. While some anticipate a surge in jobs and a boon to the economy, it’s likely that land prices and environmental opposition will spike, too.