This probably will not happen, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Here we are at Day 47 (12/31/2013) of the IDNR Comment Period as we close out 2013. We anticipate hand-delivering 20,000 hard-copy comments to IDNR on either Thursday or Friday afternoon of this week–just trying to firm up the date and time. We will have a date and time locked in by tomorrow. Thank you, all of you, who have participated in writing comments. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Today’s Topic: Recouping Attorney Fees
- Go to: http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/OilandGas/Pages/OnlineCommentSubmittalForm.aspx
- Click the button: Subpart C: Permit Decisions (245.300-245.360)
- In the “Section” dropdown box, click: 245.310 Permit Denial
- Submit your comment/s (below)
- Click “Submit”
DNR’s rules should include a provision that would authorize the recovery of attorney fees for those who successfully challenge a permit application.
Section 1-102(c) of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (225 ILCS 752/1-102(c)) allows a circuit court to award attorney fees where a person successfully sues to enforce compliance with the Act:
“(c) The court, in issuing any final order in any action brought under this Section, may award costs of litigation (including attorney and expert witness fees) to any party, on the basis of the importance of the proceeding and the participation of the parties to the efficient and effective enforcement of this Act.”
Also, section 10-55(c) of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act (5 ILCS 100/10-55(c)) allows a circuit court to award attorney fees to a party who successfully challenges a DNR rule in court:
“(c) In any case in which a party has any administrative rule invalidated by a court for any reason, including but not limited to the agency’s exceeding its statutory authority or the agency’s failure to follow statutory procedures in the adoption of the rule, the court shall award the party bringing the action the reasonable expenses of the litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees.”
But DNR’s proposed rules do not allow for an award of attorney fees for an interested person who hires an attorney and successfully challenges a permit application. Given the typical situation–a vast disparity in financial resources between the typical industry applicant, on the one hand, and an adversely affected individual landowner or other interested person on the other, the ability to hire and pay for an attorney will be essential to ensuring a fair hearing on a contested permit application.
Section 245.310 should be revised to include a provision for the reimbursement of attorney fees to a person who successfully challenges a permit application.
Bloomington, IL 61701
Go there and comment. More and the last Friday.