Governor Patrick Quinn [official website] on Tuesday signed the most restrictive fracking legislation [SB 1715] in the country into law. The bill was a joint effort between government and industry specialists and is receiving high praise [press release] from the state’s environmental and manufacturing communities. It requires all drillers to acquire a permit from the legislature and provide frackwater samples before, after and during drilling. It also requires drillers to store used frackwater in above-ground tanks. Frackwater is usually stored in open-air in-ground pits that have been allegedly found in the past to seep chemicals into soil during heavy rains. Furthermore, the new law provides for more public debate by requiring open comment periods and hearings for all drilling applications. Jen Waling, of the Illinois Environmental Council [advocacy website], 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. The environmental community looks forward to working with the governor and agencies to make sure that this bill is strongly enforced.
Multiple government and energy representatives commented on the bill, most focused on how it will be enforceable without hampering industry or environmental interests.
Hydraulic fracturing [JURIST news archive], commonly referred to as “fracking,” is a highly debated topic in regions where recent Marcellus shale gas developments have been associated with toxic water pollution. The New York State Assembly [official website] in March approved a two-year ban [JURIST report] on fracking. The measure postpones any potential fracking until May 15, 2015, by which time a “comprehensive health impact assessment” can be conducted to identify potential public health impacts that may result from the process. The ban represents a continuation of a previous ban on fracking that has been in place in the state since 2008. Also in March, JURIST guest columnist Nicolas Parke debunked the rumors [JURIST op-ed] around fracking. In February JURIST guest columnist Samantha Peaslee detailed the future of fracking [JURIST op-ed] in Colorado in the wake of recent lawsuits against fracking companies in the state. In 2012 Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and the Environmental Protection Agency [JURIST reports] all took regulatory, legislative and judicial steps towards restricting hydraulic fracturing for fear of environmental and public health concerns.