Members of JCAR passed hydraulic fracturing rules on Nov. 6 as part of their consent agenda, which meant no debate on the issue took place during the meeting.
Once the hydraulic fracturing rules are adopted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the coming weeks, the Department will then make public the forms, fee requirements and materials that those seeking permits will need to file as part of the permitting process established by the rules.
However, before hydraulic fracturing can begin in Illinois, a significant permitting process, including public hearings, landowner notifications, and other procedural requirements, must be undertaken. Fracking supporters noted that while it will still be some time before hydraulic fracturing operations begin in Illinois, adoption of the rules is a significant step forward.
The Administrative Rules committee was facing a Nov. 15 deadline to adopt rules. With no rules in place, some raised concerns that a court could order that hydraulic fracturing to begin in a virtually unregulated environment.
Fracking, which is shorthand for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, is a process that injects water, sand, and chemicals into oil wells to help release additional oil deposits for extraction. Supporters of the idea say fracking could lead to a new energy boom in Illinois, and lead to massive economic growth for Southern Illinois, similar to what has already happened in North Dakota. But opponents argue that the process isn’t well understood and could lead to significant environmental problems.