Heralded as a potential model for the rest of the United States, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act into law. The new law enacts the country’s strongest environmental protections for hydraulic fracturing and has the potential to create thousands of jobs in southern Illinois. Passage of this legislation was one of Quinn’s top priorities this year, and the governor’s 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,” Quinn said. “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.”
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 aboveground closed tanks, rather than traditional pits.
The law includes strong 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 cofounder 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.”
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. 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.