Fracking interests have examined the proposed rules, and they are not happy. The coalition that pushed through legislation to allow hydraulic fracturing to access oil and gas reserves in Southern Illinois says it has 66 complaints about the long-awaited rules proposed by the Department of Natural Resources. “These rules, as written, will essentially put a very high bar, if not impossible bar, for companies to comply with, and companies have limited resources in where they can choose to invest, and if Illinois puts this bar too high, you’re simply not gonna see economic development in the state of Illinois,” said Mark Denzler of the Illinois Manufacturers Association.
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The rules are technical, but Denzler gave two as an example: One that broadly allows public comment on applications, rather than limiting it to people with a stake in the area, and another that ultimately gives the director of natural resources discretion to approve or deny an application. He says the rules overstep the delicately negotiated legislation, which purposely left in some measures that the DNR has taken out, and purposely left out some provisions that the DNR proposes regulating.
The rules won’t take effect unless they’re approved by a special panel of state lawmakers, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee can accept or reject the rules, but only the DNR can change them. Denzler hopes the lawmakers can persuade the DNR to amend its proposal. If the committee doesn’t approve the rules by Nov. 15 – as currently proposed or as amended – then the current proposal ends up in the trash and the DNR must start its rule-making anew, with public comments and all.