What You Need to Know About The New Fracking Rules

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By WSIL Reporter

WSIL  --  Illinois lawmakers promised thousands of jobs when they approved fracking last year. But drilling companies are still waiting for the go ahead. We're now one step closer after the Illinois Department of Natural Resources released its latest rules last week.
 
But the agency is not ready to let the drilling begin just yet. This is the second draft of the rules. The process started back in November, and since then it's garnered a lot of attention. Now officials say it could be less than 90 days before drillers can start applying for permits.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has the entire proposal for hydraulic fracturing rules online.

IDNR Director Marc Miller says the new version is peppered with changes made in response to more than 40,000 pages of public comment on the plans.
 
"We want to make sure that it's as open as possible, and to show that the process actually works so people can participate in their government," he explains.
 
The first draft raised major concerns from environmental groups about safeguarding public health and preventing pollution. One of the big worries is the chance of radioactive materials entering the water supply.
 
Miller says the changes take those concerns into account by adding rules on things like radiation.
 
"[We] test for radioactivity in their tailings, to look for radioactivity and to have a radioactivity plan," he says.
 
Earthquakes triggered by the drilling are another concern. The new rules reduce the amount of earth movement needed to set off a warning system.
 
"Smaller seismic events will trigger the stop light or the caution light," claims Miller.
 
Another update requires that after drilling, the permit holder restores the land as close to its original condition as possible.
 
Miller says the public needs to be a part of the process and people will be encouraged to report violations.
 
"Reach out to the Illinois EPA or the Department of Natural Resources and we'll reach out to the well inspectors or other inspectors to investigate," he says.
 
It's important to note that these rules only apply to a certain kind of high volume, horizontal fracking that has not been conducted in Southern Illinois before.
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