A bi-partisan compromise meant to spur jobs and encourage energy independence is finally making its way toward implementation, more than a year after being passed.
Proposed rules for implementing Illinois’ new hydraulic fracturing rules are set to be reviewed by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) Sept. 16. The legislation, SB 1715, was approved May 31, 2013 with overwhelming support from both parties and was widely viewed as model legislation with major business and environmental organizations supporting the compromise.
However, since being signed into law, the implementation has moved slowly, with many critical of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, for what they viewed as foot-dragging.
Now, when lawmakers meet to review the proposed rules, they will debate whether or not the agency overstepped its authority in writing proposed rules to implement the new law.
Proponents of the process, which has been nicknamed “fracking,” argue it will create jobs and offer access to untapped energy reserves which are critical to making the United States less dependent on foreign energy sources.
Opponents say the risks have been underestimated and that the process could threaten the health of nearby residents if chemicals used in fracturing underground rocks seep into water supplies.
The bipartisan JCAR is an important, but little noted, committee of legislators assigned to review the rules that state agencies must adopt when implementing legislation. It is their responsibility to assure that the executive branch rules match up with what the legislature intended when a bill was passed.
The committee will have 45 days to review and approve the regulations. If necessary, it can ask for an additional 45-day extension. Once rules are approved, the Department of Natural Resources estimates drillers could begin applying for permits later this fall. Under the proposed rules, permits would need to be approved within 60 days.