(Chicago) – An environmental group lawsuit alleging procedural deficiencies in the Illinois fracking rulemaking process has been dismissed by proponents.
On Wednesday a top business group that lead the fight to open Illinois to hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in Illinois shrugged off a Southern Illinois environmental group seeking to block the new law.
“The statute was analyzed during a thorough and exhaustive process at JCAR,” said Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “We can now begin the process of hydraulic fracturing which will result in significant economic development and job creation throughout Illinois, much needed state revenue and the strongest environmental regulations in the nation.
The suit, brought by Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, asks for a permanent injunction on fracking, claiming, among other things, that there was a “lack of scientific evidence in the rulemaking process” and a “failure to provide citizens the right to speak at public hearings”.
The environmental group claimed, for example, that two dozen people were turned away from the public hearing in Chicago due to lack of accommodations.
“We showed up for the hearing, but were turned away,” says plaintiff Nathan Czuba,”We were not allowed to be part of this process.”
Lawsuit is “frivolous”.
“This is a poster-child for frivolous lawsuits,” a Democratic lawmaker told The Illinois Observer. “The fracking opponents have misunderstood the rule-making process from the start.”
The fracking opponents argue that despite industry promises to bring jobs and economic development to the region and assertions that the environmental protections are the strongest in the nation, the environmental risks outweigh the benefits.
“Public safety and welfare should be the priority for state agencies,” says Tabitha Tripp, one plaintiff in the lawsuit.
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