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*** UPDATED x1 *** Fix it now

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

* One of the main reasons that I felt comfortable with the new fracking regulatory law was that the Illinois Sierra Club was at the negotiating table and agreed to the final cut.

But if the Sierra Club is this unhappy with the proposed Illinois Department of Natural Resources regulations, well, now I’m very uncomfortable indeed

Six months ago, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law legislation that had passed by wide margins in both houses to regulate fracking, or hydrauling fracturing. The bill was the result of an agreement hammered out between drilling interests and environmentalists, and Quinn boasted it gave Illinois the best environmental protections in the nation.

But the devil is always in the details. It’s the Department of Natural Resources’ job to translate more than 100 pages of legislation into rules governing fracking. It’s complicated because no one is allowed to talk to each other ex parte, i.e., in private.

When the DNR put out a first draft of the regulations, no one was very happy, as often happens with complicated legislation. Environmentalists thought the rules were weaker than the compromise legislation envisioned, and the drilling industry had its own objections. And some grass-roots environmentalists have been complaining all along that the mainline environmental groups that participated in the legislative negotiations caved.

“We do think the DNR needs to go back to the drawing board on these rules because they are not as strong as the law,” said Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club’s Illinois chapter. “We viewed the law as a floor, not a ceiling, in terms of protections. … Given the consequences of a mistake or an accident and the great difficulty of remediating contaminated groundwater, we need to make sure these rules are as strong as possible from the get-go. … We don’t think these rules are good enough to protect the public.”

The Sierra Club has been barraged with criticism by fringe groups on this issue, so it’s possible that things have just gotten too hot for the organization.

But Jack Darin stuck his neck way, way out on this thing, so DNR needs to accommodate his concerns as much as humanly possible.


*** UPDATE *** The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association claims that some groups are attempting to use the rules process to renegotiate the bill. From an IMA letter to DNR

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    Floor, not a ceiling, makes sense to me.

    The drilling industry should recall that there was considerable support in the GA for a moratorium. MJM hinted that he could push that over the goal line.

    If the Sierra Club gets off the train, the whole fracking coalition falls apart. No one’s going to stick their necks out for the drillers if the Sierra Club says they’re increasing the risk to groundwater.

  2. - Konda Chilly - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    Worst job growth of any state in America.

    Let’s make it worse to satisfy whack job leftists!

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    I don’t think this is the Sierra Club covering their butts. Rather, with the election coming up, the Governor’ is all about jobs, jobs, jobs, and figures the environmentalists really have nowhere else to go. Darin’s neck is not a priority right now.

  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    ===whack job leftists! ===

    The Sierra Club proved without a doubt that they weren’t even close to such a thing when they negotiated the bill.

    Grow up or go away.

  5. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    I’m not sure I agree with having to satisfy ALL of the concerns of the Sierra Club. If you do that I’m sure the industry is going to have problems, and thought I don’t know what their objections were, it seems that they already had problems with the rules They are going to have to find a balance.

  6. - Downstater - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    Sierra Club is a far left group, who lost their way years ago. I recall when they were caught using non recycled paper in their magazine, while telling everyone else to use recycled paper. Their excuse. The quality of their pictures would suffer. John Muir would be ashamed of the current Sierra Club.

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    –Sierra Club is a far left group, who lost their way years ago.–

    They signed on to the bill. Their concern is groundwater, which is hardly a partisan issue, but a necessity for life.

    Does anything disturb your approved cathecism?

  8. - downstate hack - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:19 am:

    Typical of Illinois. Let’s lose jobs to every other State, through bureaucratic nonsense and questionable and unproven issues raised by left wing groups to raise money for themselves. The Fracing regulations submitted by DNR are fine, and the Illinois law creates even more safeguards. Let’s move on and create some real jobs in this State for a change.

  9. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    “If the Sierra Club gets off the train, the whole fracking coalition falls apart. No one’s going to stick their necks out for the drillers if the Sierra Club says they’re increasing the risk to groundwater.”

    Word, the risk to groundwater already exists. There’s been drilling (vertical) going on for a very long time down in central/southern Illinois. There’s drilling wastewater pits all over the place from prior drilling - in fact, we’ve probably got records on them, but most of the records are all paper, and in some places the records are good, in other paces, not so much. And there’s no money to do anything about them.

    You can sit there and say, well that’s a good reason to do nothing on Fracking - but if you do that, where are you going to get motivation/money to starting fixing the existing problems?

    The above is one of the sticking points, but it’s also about private water wells - which are heavily predominant in Central and Southern Illinois.

    And we have a real problem there, and it’s one of those ‘elephant in the tent’ type problems that nobody wants to acknowledge. Many (quite numerous) existing private water wells have been in existence for a very long time. Most of these are shallow wells (less than 500 feet of so, with the majority less than 300 feet deep), and their water quality is probably pretty shaky (things like levels of coli, rust, nitrates, methane, hydrocarbons, etc., etc.).

    This is an issue because much of this contamination is pre-existing, much of it natural that develops over time, water testing has been done only sporadically and then usually only by the homeowner, it’s supposed to have been done as part of any new mortgages (sometimes it actually happened - but wasn’t usually required on refi’s), and as a result, there’s a whole bunch of issues. And the record keeping usually sucks.

    And to top it all off, the infrastructure to test all these existing private water wells is nowhere near ready to carry the load, and the funding isn’t there either.

    The result isn’t that the physical infrastructure is necessarily inadequate, it’s that the government infrastructure (record keeping and inspections) is seriously inadequate.

    There’s a number of things that could be done relatively inexpensively to address/correct some of these issues, but it’s going to require compromise on both sides. For those of us who have some potential solutions, it’s very frustrating, because nobody wants to listen. And with everybody choosing up sides, that’s unlikely to change.

    From somebody who went to several meetings, it’s frustrating.

  10. - Downstater - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    =In September 2005, the Sierra Club held its first Sierra Summit in San Francisco. Approximately 1,000 volunteers from around the country, selected by their chapters and groups, were delegates; some nondelegate members also attended. There were seminars and exhibit presentations about current environmental issues and about techniques for more effective activism. Prominent guest speakers included Al Gore; Bill Maher; Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; and Arianna Huffington.

    In 2008, the Sierra Club endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President, citing “his strong record of support for clean air, wetlands protection, and clean energy.”[22]

    In January 2013, executive director Michael Brune announced [23] that the Sierra Club would officially participate in the first civil disobedience action in its 120-year history as part of the ongoing protest calling on the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, stating, “we are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen – even though we know how to stop it – would be unconscionable.” On 13 February 2013, Michael Brune was arrested along with forty-eight people, including civil rights leader Julian Bond and NASA climate scientist James Hansen.[24][25]=
    I rest my case.

  11. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    Downstater, I take it that’s supposed to prove something.

    Again, they signed on to the bill. It would not have passed or been signed without their support.

    Now they want strong regulations to protect groundwater. That’s extreme?

  12. - Timmeh - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Why should Darin compromise in the future if the Sierra Club gets a bad deal from regulators AFTER they’ve negotiated a good compromise solution? Rich, if the Sierra club/environmentalists weren’t on board, would the bill have passed?

    What will kill jobs is environmentalists not compromising in the future. Burning them now will assure that.

  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    ===would the bill have passed?===

    I doubt that there would’ve been broad regional support. And it may not have passed. Madigan wanted a compromise, so it may not even have been voted on.

    Your other comments were spot on, Timmeh.

  14. - RetiredStateEmployee - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    Downstater,I can only suggest that you start buying up all the properties in other states that have had their wells polluted since that doesn’t seem to bother you. Then you can put your money where your mouth is. Most of us understand that clean water is necessary for humans to survive. If that’s left wing, I guess I will have to sign up.

  15. - Senator Clay Davis - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    Downstater and Downstate Hack - the strongest opposition at the recent DNR hearings about fracking was coming from downstate landowners concerned about their groundwater. This isn’t some vast left-wind conspiracy. People are legitimately concerned about this issue.

  16. - Downstater - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    There is no proof verifiable proof fracking is causing the ground water to be contaminated to the point it is not able to be consumed by humans, with proper treatment.
    Everyone wants clean water, but the Sierra Clubs goal appears to be no fracking or regulations making it not financial feasible to do fracking, while jobs to be created never happen.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    A little early to rest, Downstater. Hosting Al Gore, endorsing Obama and opposing Keystone don’t make someone “far left”, unless you’re so far right the whole planet looks left. Have words lost their meaning to you? Show me where they have proposed abolishing capitalism, confiscating businesses by the State without compensation and eliminating the rule of law and then you can rest.

  18. - DuPage - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Two things, it should be absolutely safe, and also Illinois should put a severance tax similar to other states, and that should be done as part of the overall package.
    I recently read that a few companies did indeed contaminate water wells in Pennsylvania. It was due to slipshod sealing of the fracking well casings, and other preventable carelessness on the part of the oil companies. Fracking CAN be done safely, but WILL it be done safely? The law should have strong penalties and enforcement to insure the oil companies don’t cut corners and ruin the underground water supplies.

  19. - Timmeh - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    “There is no proof verifiable proof fracking is causing the ground water to be contaminated to the point it is not able to be consumed by humans, with proper treatment.”
    With proper treatment? I have a groundwater well at home. How much does is this proper treatment going to cost me? What kind of machine am I going to need to have to properly treat my water in addition to the water softener that we need to run?

    If we can’t get clean water from the well, then we have to move or we have to get water another way. Either way isn’t easy.

  20. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    The main defense given for the bill was that not agreeing to some sort of bill regulating fracking would lead to unregulated fracking.

    So, saying the Sierra Club agreed to the bill is like saying someone accepted an offer he couldn’t refuse.

  21. - 4 percent - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    Rich - you’re way off base here. The Sierra Club, NRDC and others negotiated the bill and everyone reached agreement. Then they started taking flack from their big donors and other environmental organizations and are now trying to renegotiate the bill through the rulemaking process. There is HUGE difference between implementing the law and renegotiating.

    If you look at the comments of the mainstream environmental groups, you will see issues that were debated for hours and hours until resolution was reached. Now they want to renegotiate those. If you look at industry comments, they are very technical in nature and indicate a desire to implement the actual bill.

    Jack may be getting “buyer’s remorse” but if you sign onto a deal then you need live up to your end of it.

  22. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Poisoning the ground water is a crime against humanity for which their should be no forgiveness.

    We know water is going to be a commodity that is in short supply in the future.

    Poisoning ground water is unforgivable.

  23. - iThink - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    “There is no proof verifiable proof fracking is causing the ground water to be contaminated to the point it is not able to be consumed by humans, with proper treatment.”

    The key words here are with treatment. How much treatment is reasonable? Who is paying for that in the generations to come? Seems like a high price to pay.

    We need clean water, and fracking does contaminate some wells (using number from Pennsylvania about 100 contaminated per 5000 wells) which seems OK, unless you rely on one of those wells for drinking water.

  24. - dave - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    **So, saying the Sierra Club agreed to the bill is like saying someone accepted an offer he couldn’t refuse.**

    That’s really not a true assessment of what happened. At all.

  25. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Who’s paying for that groundwater treatment, Downstater? Homeowners? The drillers?

    Maybe that should get worked out ahead of time.

    There’s no risk-free way to extract or consume fossil fuels. The whole point is to reduce risk and pollution.

    When did “conservation” become a dirty word to alleged “conservatives?” Was it when Interior Secretary Watt said we didn’t have to worry because The Rapture was around the corner?

  26. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    The natural gas industry has fought against allowing information to allow a proper evaluation of whether fracking is a health hazard,

  27. - Downstater - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Anonymous-According to the Sierra Club, coal power plants are one of the nation’s largest and dirtiest sources of energy, a leading cause of respiratory illness, and account for over 40% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. It argues that there are readily available alternatives to coal.[39] A 2009 report commissioned by the Sierra Club concluded that the costs associated with coal mining in Appalachia are five times greater than its economic benefits to the region. The report concluded that residents of coal mining regions would be best served by transitioning away from economic dependence on coal.[40
    Looks like they would like eliminate all coal production. And it’s pretty apparent most of Al Gore’s made up facts on global warming have proved false.
    I like the part above where the Sierra Club states so glowingly, the state should transition away from economic dependence on coal. Well, isn’t that just wonderful. Of course, in the world they have no real answer for the lost jobs and economic impact on the state for this “transition”.

  28. - Konda Chilly - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    Sierra Club cares about groundwater?

    Then why did it roll over and bark for Chicago Democrats who ramrodded through a bill allowing contaminated dirt to be dumped into quarries. That is a demonstrated huge threat to groundwater and the Sierra Club didn’t say a peep because they were told to not say a peep.

  29. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    Downstater, industry around the world, not just in the United States, is moving away from coal for power. Even China.

    Gas is cheaper and cleaner. That’s capitalism, not a “leftist” conspiracy.

  30. - Going nuclear - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Rich, I hate to see the fracking opponents referred to as “fringe groups.” Many downstate anti-fracking activists were involved in this issue before the Sierra Club and NRDC decided to make fracking a statewide priority. There were also quite a few downstate Sierra Club members that wanted a moratorium. As you know, their representatives in Springfield looked at the political landscape and recommended that the group negotiate a deal to get the best environmental protections possible.

    Downstater and downstate hack, fracking is going to have a significant impact on many downstate communities. Environmental issues at the local level tend to be nonpartisan, particularly when the pollution-generating activity is nearby and can potentially impact drinking water supplies and property values.

    How this law is implemented and its impact on groundwater protection will probably be Governor Quinn and DNR Director Miller’s environmental legacy. I hope they’re engaged and don’t leave it up to the administration’s economic development advisors to call all the shots.

  31. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    “With proper treatment? I have a groundwater well at home. How much does is this proper treatment going to cost me? What kind of machine am I going to need to have to properly treat my water in addition to the water softener that we need to run?

    If we can’t get clean water from the well, then we have to move or we have to get water another way. Either way isn’t easy.”

    Hate to tell you this, but the truth is that the biggest threat to your private water well isn’t fracking. It’s most likely to be either your, or your neighbors septic system. Be it a tank and field system, or a different wastewater treatment system.

    You might want to check with your local public health department, environmental health division on how to find out if you have issues, and what your alternatives are. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting a water test to first find out if you actually have an issue.

  32. - Nonplussed - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:51 am:

    Sierra took $26M from Chesapeake Energy (Natural Gas) to fight coal-fired plants in the late 2000’s. Who is funding them to fight fracking?

  33. - CollegeStudent - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    ===Looks like they would like eliminate all coal production.===

    From an ecological standpoint coal-fueled power plants ARE awful-scrubbers only make them less awful. Especially if you use Illinois coal. While it would be catastrophic for jobs, phasing out coal power plants isn’t exactly the worst idea in the world long-term.

  34. - Han Sanity - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    Fish farmers and regulators couldn’t even keep carp in the farm ponds and out of the river systems.

    Let’s see how surface water, streams, and aquifers are protected from fracking operations several hundred feet away.

    The IDNR, already strapped for cash & barely able to keep the State Park system operating at accustomed levels, will regulate frackersl by what — raising revenue from willing frackers?

    How could anyone be skeptical?

    Want more revenue opportunities downstate?

    Keep going with the wind turbines.

    Let IL farmers grow as much industrial hemp and high quality cannabis as they want,

    Sell it wherever liquor and tobacco can be sold. Tax it like liquor.

  35. - votecounter - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Retired State em.
    Where are there wells polluted? The Sierra Club came to the table because it is inevitable that Fracking is going to be used if not here then in other states. Look at North Dakota JOBS! JOBS JOBS!
    This Fracking opposition is allot like the global warming crowd scaring people with made up science to get their political way. The problem here is Illinois is that in the areas that will be effected unemployment is the main worry. Look at what Fracking has done it has now made us oil independent! The united States now has more oil reserves than the Saudis, or any other country.

  36. - walker - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    This bill, (like concealed carry) required serious negotiation, where every party ended up dissatisfied but willing to compromise to get an agreement. Calling any of these parties a “fringe group”, or “extremist” doesn’t reflect their actual behavior in this process.

    Rules-making is not an arena for more lobbying or renegotiations. The rules-makers are not legislators. It should be responsibly completed, as consistent with the intent of the original bill as humanly possible.

  37. - Han Sanity - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Go ahead.

    Call me Mr. Fringe.

    Can’t imagine passing or supporting that bill

  38. - Sunshine - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Fracking is, for the most part controllable, except when nature already has fractures in the substrata. Add to this (From my experience as an owner of an oil exploration company some years ago)there are many, many unplugged or improperly plugged exploration and shut in wells throughout Illinois and the Midwest.

    Many southern Illinois families have brine and natural gas in their fresh water. It’s pretty common. So…when you frack, the likelihood of contaminating fresh water zones can be huge unless precautions are taken.

    I’m for taking as many precautions as necessary because once a fresh water zone/aquifer is compromised, there is no proven effective way to undo the damage. It is my opinion that fracking should not be permitted within miles of aquifers.

  39. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    – Look at what Fracking has done it has now made us oil independent! The united States now has more oil reserves than the Saudis, or any other country.–

    Independent of what or whom? The oil extracted here doesn’t belong to the people of the United States. Once it’s refined, it can be, and is, sold anywhere in the world for the highest price.

    Also, the United States is not even in the Top 10 of proven oil reserves. It’s the third largest producer after Russia and Saudi.

  40. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    “Keep going with the wind turbines.”

    Um, you might want to re-think that. First off, almost all the good quality ‘wind channnels’ are already pretty loaded up with wind farms.

    Secondly, they’re just finishing up the added transmission capabilities to cover the added increase in power coming from the wind farms, and that’s some serious coin. I’m not sure that they added any extra capacity to get the power into the in-close urban areas. Think it was more of feeder lines from the wind farms.

    Also, that’s all variable power. You still have to have the base, which in IL is some coal and a lot of nuclear.

    Wind power in IL is a short term financial solution - like casinos. You are actually going to be better off looking at (a) commercial rooftop solar installations using some of the new solar tech which looks to have much higher efficiency (hopefully), and (b) also micro grid power systems.

    Wind power looks to be so “2000’s” in terms of technology.

  41. - Han Sanity - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    Given the coverage of power transmissions across state line during shortages, I wasn’t aware of current limitations.

    I won’t disagree about the pursuit of solar alternatives.

    IL Wind map:

  42. - Going nuclear - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    “Global warming scaring crowd”

    You mean those scaremongers at the National Academy of Sciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research, American Association for the Advancement of Science and other scientific organizations around the world that have issued statements confirming that most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities.

    You can also lump Caterpillar, Ford, GE, Dow, HP, Shell, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo and many other corporations into this group. They all recognize the threat of climate change and are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

  43. - Hamilton - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Do we have a copy of enviros comments?

  44. - Hans Sanity - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    @ going nuclear — you left out contingency planners at the Pentagon.

  45. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    ==This Fracking opposition is allot like the global warming crowd scaring people with made up science to get their political way.==

    The trolls are out in full force today, aren’t they.

  46. - Fringie - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    Nonplussed wrote:

    “Sierra took $26M from Chesapeake Energy (Natural Gas) to fight coal-fired plants in the late 2000’s. Who is funding them to fight fracking?”

    It would be more relevant to ask who’s funding environmental groups work in favor of regulated fracking.

  47. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===The trolls are out in full force today, aren’t they===

    On both sides.

  48. - LCP45 - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    groundwater contamination does not respect municipal, county, or State boundaries…your neighbors problem will also be yours given time…let’s take the long view and protect one of IL’s best economic engines: our water supply…haste makes waste we will live with for generations…

  49. - OneMan - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    Judgment Day, my first job out of school (and even in school as a CO-OP) was at a Waste Management facility that tested water taken from in and around landfills. It wouldn’t be that hard to reproduce that facility (I am sure the testing equipment is faster) and we tested a ton of samples everyday.

    It’s doable, the problem is going to be spending 20 million or more to get it set up…

    Also getting the testing protocols right (field blanks, trip blanks and the rest)

  50. - Anon - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    == There is no proof verifiable proof fracking is causing the ground water to be contaminated to the point it is not able to be consumed by humans, with proper treatment. ==

    The fracking industry reminds me of Big Tobacco, which denied for decades that correlation proved cause and effect between smoking and lung cancer. Big Tobacco also criticized their critics for raising “unproven” allegations. When the evidence of harm is otherwise ample, public health should be protected even if cause-and-effect proof is lacking. Just as we did with cigarettes.

  51. - Century Club - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    If the IMA had agreements with the Sierra Club on issues that are critical to whether fracking comes to Illinois, they could have written them into the bill. It was clearly a tough compromise for the Sierra Club and to not expect them to play tough through the entire process is naive- or is a disingenuous claim by a group that I’m sure knows how to work the rule-making process.

  52. - downstate hack - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Wordslinger “Natural Gas is cheaper than coal”

    Only because of new production from fracking technologies.

  53. - Anon. - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    “We viewed the law as a floor, not a ceiling, in terms of protections.”

    If the protetions really are weaker than the statute, spell it out in your comments on the hearings. But, if you wanted stronger protections, you should have put them in the law. “Administrative rules can neither limit nor extend the scope of a statute.” Standard Oil Co. v. Department of Finance, 383 III. 136 (1943).

  54. - Southeastern Illinois Resident - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    It is difficult to explain how terrible it feels to watch the rest of this state debate the question of whether OUR local resources can be developed while most of our local folks sit here quietly hoping that development will come.

    In the media, I watch the enviros that are operating in and around the Carbondale area and I can absolutely assure you that they do not represent the majority view in areas that actually have potential for petroleum extraction. I am not saying that we don’t have a few fringe types around here…..but most S.E. Illinois residents are accustomed to extractive industries (both coal and oil) and welcome the economic boost that these industries have provided here to one degree or another for over 100 years. If they want to drill on my farm, I would certainly allow them to do so. Wouldn’t be the first time that we have had drillers. In fact, they helped us buy our home farm in the 50’s.

  55. - Judgment Day - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 4:24 pm:

    One Man, I have absolutely no doubt it can be done (the actual testing). For example, the City of Rockford just got federal money about 2-3 years ago to setup their own water testing lab. If it remember, it cost in excess of $6 mil from the feds.

    Now, both Winnebago County PHD and McHenry County PHD already had their own labs, but hey, why not add a third public facility in the same area.

    The problem as I see it will be that the fracking legislation (as I read it, which I’m currently on my third read through the entire thing) requires water testing of any well within 500 feet of the fracking (drilling).

    Now, with conventional (vertical) drilling, that’s pretty easy. Locate the well head (with coordinates), get a diameter and plot out overlays on a cadastral map (shows property lines & legal description data), go to the courthouse (or hopefully, a website) and ID any PIN #’s located within the area in question and find their well heads. It’s harder than that, but you get the idea.

    Then it’s either pay the local PHD or vendor to take the well samples (hopefully they have a spigot on the well head), do your field notes (documentation), and shoot the samples off to the lab.

    But this fracking law is a little more detailed, which, to me, is a good thing - for everybody. When they frack, they angle the drilling head and they can go out miles horizontally. As I understand it, several miles is not uncommon.

    If it’s 3 miles long, that’s 5,280 Lin. ft. per mile x 3 = 15,840 lin. ft. That’s a hike.

    And remember, they’re going to be fracking several miles below the surface, because that’s where the shale is. So they have to interpolate the underground location of the horizontal drilling ‘line’ back to the surface.

    So the next step (as it looks to me) is you have got to check each well within 500 lin. ft. of the interpolated surface drilling line for water sampling and testing before you ever start actually drilling. Because you don’t have exact locational data, you are going to have to allow for some margin of error. As a result, that’s likely to be more than a few wells to be collected and tested for every drilling site, and it could be a whole lot of wells.

    And because there are multiple ‘checkpoints’ written into the law, each location is going to have to be tested multiple times. Lots and Lots and LOTS of water testing going to be going on, let me tell you.

    I’m not saying at all that this water testing / private water well and private septic is a bad thing. Has the potential to be very, very good to me. This Fracking law, in a strange way, could actually be a very good thing in getting some existing problems that have been around for a long time fixed.

    We’ll see how it plays out.

  56. - Gregor Samsa - Friday, Jan 10, 14 @ 5:41 pm:

    I’m repeating myself, but Halliburton developed a SAFE fracking fluid formula, that’s biodegradable, using food-grade substances. If we were serious about going ahead with Illinois Fracking in a safe way, we’d have mandated this option, and mandated full disclosure of the “secret formulas” used in the process.

    What’s needed from the companies fracking is a legal commitment to do more than the bare minimum in remediation when they screw up (and that IS going to happen: statistically, at least ten percent of those cement casings will fail in a decade.) The frackers need to have it established they aren’t going to drag this thru the courts for years, arguing that benzine is a naturally occurring substance in wells and that it was always there… …or cut and run, leaving the state holding the bag when the gas runs out…instead of being immediately responsive and responsible.

    The quality control on the cement casings HAS to be kept to world-class standards, to protect the ground water.

    As it is, Im afraid IDNR, EPA, and Ag will regulate and monitor this activity about as loosely as they do the large-scale waste disposal for hog and cattle farms (CAFO) in Illinois.

    The jobs these wells are expected to generate should not be jobs remediating ruined water supplies and laying in pipe for fresh water. Or jobs repairing roads eroded by all the new truck traffic. Or jobs as movers helping people abandon land they can’t live on anymore, and nurse’s aides helping people that got sick from contamination of their water and air.

    If I sound strident, it’s because we don’t get a chance to do this right the second time: we HAVE to get it right the FIRST time, for the generations of our children counting on our stewardship.

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