(Chicago) – Extra: Governor Pat Quinn today, avoiding the public spotlight, signed a new hydraulic fracturing bill into law.
Rather than hold a traditional bill signing ceremony and press conference to trumpet one his “top priorities”, Quinn signed the new bill in private and later issued a press release.
“This new law will unlock the potential for thousands of jobs in Southern Illinois and ensure that our environment is protected,” Quinn said.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1715, was sponsored by State Senator Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).
“I’m proud to say these are the strongest, most effective drilling safeguards enacted by any state in the nation,” Frerichs said. “We know high-volume fracking is already underway in Illinois, and this legislation is needed more than ever to protect the environment while allowing for job creation and economic growth not just in downstate communities but throughout Illinois.”
“This is a historic agreement between the environmental coalition and industry,” Bradley said.
Hydraulic fracturing is currently permitted without the necessary regulations or protections.
Under the new law, Illinois will become the first state in the nation in which hydraulic fracturing operators will be required to submit pre- and post-fracturing chemical disclosures to the state. Additionally, Illinois will become the only state in the nation to require pre- and post-fracturing water testing. Operators will be required to provide a baseline water test prior to the act of hydraulic fracturing and then tests six months, 18 months and 30 months after operations have concluded. Illinois will also require the storage of fluid in above-ground closed tanks, rather than traditional pits.
The law includes a mandatory 30-day public comment period, a public hearing opportunity and a 15-day follow-up public comment period on new permit applications. The state will consider all submitted written comments and testimony from public hearings when making its decision to approve or deny the application.
“This is a monumental achievement for economic development and jobs in Illinois,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Hydraulic fracturing will create good-paying jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign source of oil.”
The legislation was supported by numerous environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club Illinois, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council and Illinois Environmental Council.
“Today Governor Quinn is signing into law the most comprehensive environmental regulatory bill in the country on hydraulic fracturing,” Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council said. “While our community still has concerns about the environmental impacts of this new technology, it is essential for these tough restrictions to become law to protect our communities.”