Proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing, often known as “fracking,” have been put on hold until Nov. 6 by the bipartisan legislative committee that reviews state regulations.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules had placed the regulations on their Oct. 14 meeting agenda, but elected to push back any vote on the rules so that discussions can continue. The committee is charged with assuring that the rules adopted will reflect the language of Senate Bill 1715, which authorized hydraulic fracturing when it passed in 2013.
The legislation was painstakingly negotiated between energy companies and environmentalists and lawmakers want to make sure the rules that state regulators will operate under accurately reflect the language and intent of the original measure.
Industry representatives have expressed concerns that the rules, written by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, go beyond what was contained in the legislation. While several major environmental groups supported the compromise legislation, some organizations are opposed to any hydraulic fracturing and have pushed for rules that would go far beyond the intent of the legislation.
The Administrative Rules committee is facing a Nov. 15 deadline to adopt rules or force the process to start over again. With no rules in place, some have raised concerns that a court could order that hydraulic fracturing can begin in a virtually unregulated environment.
The issue has proven to be extremely divisive, with advocates arguing hydraulic fracturing has proven safe in other areas; promises to bring much-needed jobs to Illinois; will reduce energy costs; and promote energy independence. Opponents say the process runs the risk of polluting groundwater supplies and has not been in effect long enough to adequately assess the risks.