Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration has affirmed its support for the state Department of Natural Resources’ efforts to craft rules governing hydraulic fracturing, saying the process ensures that the public, advocates and experts all have the chance to weigh in.
Saturday’s statement from the governor’s office came a day after Democratic state Rep. John Bradley proposed legislation to jump-start fracking through a measure that would skip that rule-making process. […]
Grant Klinzman, a Quinn spokesman, said the administration takes hydraulic fracturing very seriously and is “making sure it is done right,” adding that the DNR has done “an unprecedented amount of work to ensure the public, advocates and experts all have a voice in the process.”
“There’s no delay,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director at the Illinois Environment Council. “This whole idea of a delay has been manufactured.”
* I beg to differ…
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller told the Tribune in a recent interview that the agency received 35,000 comments on its first draft of the rules, all of which it must respond to under the law. […]
IDNR held five lengthy public hearings on the proposed rules, which have about 100 different sections and are hundreds of pages long. Miller said they are done addressing about 25 percent of the areas at issue.
25 percent? The comment period ended the first week of January and they’re only 25 percent of the way through? At that rate, there’s no way they’ll meet their November deadline. It’ll be next spring if IDNR continues at this glacial pace.
Not to mention that many, if not most, of those comments were almost identical to each other, ginned up by interest groups on both sides.
* From an action alert sent out by a group that wants a total fracking moratorium…
On this Memorial Day holiday, the oil industry is attempting to hijack the democratic rule-making process that governs fracking regulations in Illinois. They’re trying to pass amendments to the fracking legislation that would direct the Department of Natural Resources to ignore more than 35,000 comments submitted by the people of Illinois demanding strong regulation and allow industry to begin fracking immediately!
Elected legislators are attempting to hijack a “democratic” rule-making process run by unelected people? Um, OK.
* With all that being said, there are some very legitimate environmental concerns about Bradley’s proposal…
Filed just one week before the Legislature adjourns its spring session, the legislation would skip a rule-making process by the IDNR. Environmental groups interpret the bill as stripping that power away from the state agency and leaving it in the hands of the Legislature itself.
The bill also would establish a moratorium on fracking in northern Illinois counties, though there is limited drilling potential there compared with the central and southern parts of the state. […]
Environmental activists said the legislation would hurt the state’s ability to impose critical controls on a practice with the potential to pollute water and cause other ecological damage. […]
“It does certainly appear to remove the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to adopt any rules, and move that authority to the Legislature to define how fracking is going to be carried out in Illinois,” said Jennifer Cassel, a staff attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center.