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In the Spotlight: New fracking law a disaster in the making

By William Rau and Joyce Harant Posted Feb. 15, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

Giddiness, betrayal and anger greeted the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) staff’s draft rules for Illinois’ fracking law.

Giddiness from an oil industry that got what it wanted. Betrayal from environmentalists who saw key regulations removed from the rules. Anger from grass-roots activists who saw further gutting of a loophole-ridden law.

Activists and environmentalists packed rules hearings and buried IDNR under 32,000 written comments. IDNR offered a critic’s feast:

1. Dozens of discrepancies, all favoring the oil and gas industry, separate the rules from the law.

2. IDNR ignored the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act by writing rules that create “serious threat to the public interest, safety, or welfare” of citizens.

3. The law requires compliance with “applicable federal, State, and local laws.” IDNR evades this provision and remains silent about county ordinances. Will they preempt those, too?

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