Work to Stop Hydraulic Fracturing in Illinois

Make a Difference!
Comment on Proposed Rules that Would Regulate Fracking in Illinois

Fracking  
WHAT IS FRACKING? 
Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Fracking makes it possible to extract natural gas from shale plays that were once unreachable with conventional technologies. It’s a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — typically water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.

But hydraulic fracking threatens our air, water, communities and the climate upon which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why the state of Vermont and countries including France and Germany have stopped it. (see: List of Bans Worldwide).

BACKGROUND – ILLINOIS PASSES REGULATIONS, SPRING 2013
In spite of massive organizing efforts this past spring in support of a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas in Illinois, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act – a law that allows and regulates the hydraulic fracturing process in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is empowered to write and enforce the rules for fracking in Illinois.  Their first draft of these rules was published on November 15, 2013, opening up a 45-day comment period.

Written in accordance with the regulatory bill passed in June, many groups believe that the rules endanger the health and safety of Illinois residents and create new loopholes that will only further devastate the environment and negatively affect the health and quality of life of residents who live near wells. Even environmental groups that supported and co-wrote the regulatory bill, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), say the rules are unacceptable.

COMMENT ON RULES TO KEEP INDUSTRIAL-SCALE FRACKING OUT OF ILLINOIS!
The purpose of this post is to give you the tools to provide a comment a day on these rules, in order to slow the process and ultimately work for a moratorium  Comments will be accepted through Friday, January 3, 2014.

Your comments can call out very real health and environmental concerns associated with these new rules.  They also can “bury the DNR” in comments with the goal of slowing down the process of fast-tracking the rules into law and buying additional time to explore a potential moratorium with the Illinois legislature.  As Sandra Steingraber explained during her keynote address at this year’s Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago’s event, this is the process that proved to be effective in obtaining a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York State.

READ PROPOSED RULES
Proposed Administrative Rules for the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act
Proposed Administrative Rules for Seismicity

ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING
When: Tuesday, Novermber 26, 6:30-8:30pm
(Doors open at 5:30pm, press conference at 5:00 pm)

Where: 750 S. Halsted St., UIC Student Center, Room 302

Click here for hearing procedures and dates, times and locations for other hearings in the state.

MAKE A COMMENT A DAY
Write a comment a day to IDNR on why you believe the rules they released are inadequate to protect Illinois. You can submit as many comments as you like electronically or by mail through the end of the day on Friday, January 3.

Click here to see the comment form.

Comments must be provided by subpart of the rules.  The IDNR is asking that comments made be specific, and limited to one subpart and one issue or concern per comment.  However, multiple comments can be made by submitting another comment using their comment form.

MAKING EFFECTIVE COMMENTS
Know what you are commenting on!  Read the regulations and the rules so that you understand the genesis of the suggested comments or concerns provided by each.

Illinois People’s Action (IPA)
You can receive a suggested comment a day in your inbox by contacting Admin@illinoispeoplesaction.org and asking to be added to their email list for this purpose. This group provides comments that differ from the one below, thereby adding to your understanding of issues and concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Illinois People’s Action’s website also includes suggested comments and a portal to the IDNR comments page.

The IPA is asking that we also copy comments to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules of the General Assembly.  Read more about this below.

Protect Illinois from Fracking
This group provides a comment a day via their website.  Their web form routes comments to the IDNR.  You will be asked to create a username and password to log in.  During this process you can give permission to organizers to print out your comment for delivery to the IDNR on January 3 as part of a major press event.

Here’s what you need to do to get started:

  1. Go to http://www.protectilfromfracking.org.
  2. Read the suggested comment.  Read the rules.
  3. Copy and paste the comment (or better yet, write your own).
  4. Scroll down and fill out the form with your information.
  5. Check the applicable boxes  that will publish comments to the IDNR webform and print out comments for delivery to IDNR.
  6. Type the number in the text box (to show you’re human) and click “Submit my comments.
  7. You will immediately receive an email that asks you to create a password for future access to this site.
  8. Remember to come back each day for a new issue to draft a comment on!

Joint Administrative Committee on Rules (JCAR)
The Joint Administrative Committee on Rules is a bipartisan legislative oversight committee created by the General Assembly in 1977.  Pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, the committee is authorized to conduct systematic reviews of administrative rules promulgated by State agencies. Click here to see who serves on this committee.

This is the committee that will decide on the rules, and the JCAR can take a wide range of actions – from accepting the rules to filing a prohibition against their adoption.  The IPA is recommending that comments submitted to the IDNR also be submitted to  JCAR so that they can see the breadth (and number) of public concerns directly (as opposed to seeing a summary from the IDNR).

Copying the JCAR on your comments is easy:

  1. Copy your comment to your clipboard BEFORE you click submit on the online comment form you are using.
  2. Open your email browser and paste your comment.
  3. Paste JCAR@ILGA.gov into the “To” line of your email.
  4. Add “Comment on Proposed Rulemaking, Hydraulic Fracturing” in the subject line.
  5. Add the subpart you are commenting on above your comment. 
  6. Click send.

NEXT STEPS
The IDNR will review comments and modify the rules before filing for Second Notice.  This is likely to take several months, and we will keep you informed as to when this filing occurs, since it will trigger another opportunity to comment on the modified rules.

Eco-Justice Collaborative
November 24, 2013

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