There Are No Criminal Charges For The Frackers – So all they have to do is pay money

No Frackers will go to jail if they violate WHAT LAWS? IDNR might as well give away the state of Illinois to being totally trashed. Where will the Fracking start? In our State Parks?

Day 49   1/2/13

Topic:  Fines penalties, suspensions and revocations

For regulations to work, levied fines must exceed the financial benefit a company gains by violating the rules. None of the rulemaking sanctions meet this criterion. This results in the other 150 pages of rules being essentially meaningless because they will be ignored.   The draft rule sanctions place the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HFRA)  on the road to failure before the first permit is issued.

Examples:

  1. Section 1-100(b) of the law specifies misdemeanor and felony criminal charges for a number of violations of the law.  Yet there are NO criminal charges in the rules
  2. In Section 1-60(a)1-6 of the law, there are six (6) grounds for suspension or revocation of a permit.  These are re-listed with a 7th in section 245.1100 of the rules.  But the very next  section of the Rules–245.1110–reduces the grounds for an immediate permit suspension to one: “an emergency condition posing a significant hazard to the public health, aquatic life, wildlife or the environment.” This is the most stringent requirement of the seven grounds listed in section 245.1100.  Why bother to list seven possible grounds for permit suspension or revocation in section 245.1100 if you then require the Department to identify the most stringent criteria for an immediate suspension.
  3. Section 1-60(b) of the law requires a much lower standard of proof to suspend, revoke or deny a permit than the rules (245.1110).  Under the law, the Department need only serve notice of its action (to suspend, revoke or deny), including a statement of the reasons for the action.
  4. In the law, if a well operator’s permit has been suspended, the burden of proof is on well operator to prove that the identified problem is “no significant threat to public health, aquatic life, wildlife, or the environment” [Section 1-60(d)].  In the rules, this phrase becomes something IDNR must prove before ordering a permit suspension [Rule Section 245.1100(b)3A].
  5. Sections 1-100 and 1-101 of the law have some stiff penalties that accrue on a daily basis until the reason for the fine is corrected.  These fines can go as high as $50,000 per violation and up to $10,000 per day.  These are replaced by fines so trivial ($50-$2500) that it will cost the IDNR more to impose and collect a fine than the dollar value of the fine itself.

Revisions Needed:  Return to the standards of the law with regard to fines, penalties and revocations.

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Frackers Must Pay For Our Lawyers – In our dreams

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”

Comment:

DNR’s rules should include a provision that would authorize the recovery of attorney fees for those who successfully challenge a permit application.

The Statutes:

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.”

The Rules:

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.

Needed Revision:

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.

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Fracker Trash Illinois And Run – The will file bankruptcy before they remediate

Just take a look at all the gaping holes the other extraction industry have left in Illinois. Their are parts of Illinois that look like the 10,000 lakes area in Minnesota that used to be valuable farmland. This will be no different.

Day 46  12/30/13

Topic:  Topsoil Replacement Requirements

Comment:

Sections 1-70(b)2 and 1-95(c) of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act state that stripped topsoil is to be replaced with similar soil and the site returned to its pre-drilling condition.

Section 1-95(c) of the Act specifically states: “The operator shall restore any lands used by the operator other than the well site and production facility to a condition as closely approximating the pre-drilling conditions that existed before the land was disturbed for any stage of site preparation activities, drilling, and high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations.”

When drilling is anticipated to be completed in less than a year, Section 245.410(d) of the Rules stipulates that the topsoil is to stockpiled and stabilized to prevent erosion.  However, “In the event it is anticipated that the final reclamation shall take place in excess of one year from drilling the well, the topsoil may be disposed of in any lawful manner provided the permittee reclaims the site with topsoil of similar characteristics of the topsoil removed.”

What is missing, and needed, in this section of the Rules is the stipulation that the replacement topsoil will be not only similar in characteristics of the topsoil removed, but also match the removed topsoil in VOLUME.   In fact, there is no place in the rules that requires measurement of the topsoil removed or measurement of the replacement topsoil.  Without such a requirement, it would be easy for an unscrupulous operator to replace the topsoil with smaller quantities than were originally removed.

Revisions Needed:  When final reclamation is anticipated to exceed one year and topsoil is removed from the site, Section 245.410(d) must require measuring the volume of the removed topsoil and stipulate that the replacement topsoil will match both the quality AND quantity of the removed topsoil.

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Fracking In Illinois Will Not Be Safe If They Have Their Way

Pollution with be rampant.
Day 45   12/29/13
Topic:  General Fluid Storage
Comment:
This section lacks the specificity needed to insure that fracking will be conducted in a manner that will protect the public health and safety and prevent pollution or diminution of any water source. (Statute 1-53(4))
  • “Compatible” (245.825(a)(2), (c)(1)).  The regulations should clarify what is “compatible” for purposes of provisions that tanks and “piping, conveyances, …must be constructed of materials compatible with the composition of the fracking fluid….” Specifically, theDepartment should clarify that “compatible” includes being resistant to corrosion, erosion, swelling, or degradation that may result from such contact.
  • Corrosion inspection (245.825(a)(5)). The Department should define what is meant by the requirement that above-ground tanks be “routinely” inspected for corrosion, i.e., specify a time interval.
  • Secondary containment (245.825(b)). The Department should require that secondary containment be designed and constructed in accordance with good engineering practices, including: (a) Using coated or lined materials that are chemically compatible with the environment and the substances to be contained; (b) Providing adequate freeboard; (c) Protecting containment from heavy vehicle or equipment traffic.
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Frackers Hate Maps – The less the public knows the better

If you can find them you can engage in direct action.

 

Day 44   12/28/13

Topic: Directional Drilling Plan

Comment:

This comment addresses inadequacies in two sections:  Sections (245.210(a)(4)) Directional Drilling Plan and Section (245.210(a)(7)) Scaled plat maps, diagrams, or cross sections,

These sections do not explicitly require that the applicant provide a map that depicts the exact location of the wellbore, i.e., draws it on the map from beginning to end. This information is critical to specific notice and standing, which reference persons within 750 feet of the wellbore.

Revisions Needed:  Require a map depicting the exact location of the wellbore.

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Illinois Frackers Want To Make You Sick – They do not want to make you better

Call you Doctor and have him send in his comments.

 

Day 43   12/27/13

Topic: Trade Secret Disclosure to Health Professionals

Comment:

The proposed language concerning disclosure of trade secret-protected information to health professionals is neither consistent with the statute nor protective of the public.

Right to Know.  Section 1-77(l) of the Act is clear that information shall be provided, as needed, to health professionals who demonstrate a need for it.  Yet, section 245.730 of the Rules diminishes the language of the Act, stating only that the Department “may” provide information to health professionals who demonstrate a need for it.

Limitation to “normal business hours.” Subsection 245.730(b)(1) of the Rules states, in the event of an emergency, that a health professional may call the Department during “normal business hours.” For an emergency that occurs after hours, the Rules suggest calling the trade secret holder. This is inadequate. The Department should provide a 24-hour hotline for emergency calls pursuant to this section.

“Trade Secret Holder.” Subsection 245.730(b)(2) of the Rules allows a health professional to seek the necessary information from a “trade secret holder,” but there is no means provided for the health professional to know who the trade secret holder is, or what phone number to use to reach it. Furthermore, this provision is found nowhere in the statute, seemingly adding another unnecessary burden on the health professional.

Lack of a time limit for the Department’s response. The Department should abide by the same 3-hour time limit for a response that applies to trade secret holders pursuant to 245.730(b)(2).

Disclosure of names receiving trade secret information.  Subsection 245.730(e) of the rules requires that health providers report to the trade secret holder the names of persons to whom the protected information was disclosed.  This requirement is found nowhere in the statute. It is inappropriate to burden health professionals with such an obligation in the absence of statutory authorization to do so.

Revisions Needed:  Rewrite the section to comply with the strongest interpretation of 1-77 of the Statute including 24-hour accessibility.  Do not require that health providers report names of persons to whom protected information was disclosed as this was not required in the statute.

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Frackers Love Loopholes – They will use every one they can find

So tighten them up folks.

Day 40, 12/24/13

Topic:  Serious Risk

Section 1-53(a)(4) of the Statute states that hydraulic fracturing operations “will be conducted in a manner that will protect the public health and safety and prevent pollution or diminution of any water source.”  This portion of the regulations was incorporated into subsection 245.300(c)(4) of the rules, which, although not as strict, makes clear that no permit may be issued unless the high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations at issue “are reasonably expected to be conducted in a manner that will protect the public health and safety and prevent pollution or diminution of any water source.”

But Subsection 245.330(d) seems to imply that a permit modification that poses a “serious risk” to public health or the environment could nonetheless be granted without changes that eliminate that risk.

While we disagree with the loosening of the language of 1-53 the regs to 245.300 of the rules, it would be difficult to imagine that a rule that expects fracking to be conducted in a manner that will “protect the public health and safety and prevent pollution of diminution of any water source” would allow fracking to occur when a “serious risk” exists.

Revisions Needed:

At a minimum, the following language should be added to this subsection: “Modification to a permit shall not be granted unless and until the proposed action is modified so that the criteria set forth in subsection 245.300(c)(4) are met.”

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Frackers Got Special Chemicals – Anytime they want proprietory secrets imposed the industry is dirty

Invariably it is to hide things that hurt people or hurt the planet. Usually both.

 

Day 38   12/22/13    

Today’s Topic:  Determining if water pollution has occurred

Comment:

Section 1-80 of the Act governing Water Quality Monitoring provides a list of indicator chemicals that would suggest water contamination has occurred but doesn’t limit what may be tested for.  In fact, this section of the law states that “Sampling shall, at a minimum, be consistent with the work plan and allow for a determination of whether any hydraulic fracturing additive or other contaminant has caused pollution or diminution for purposes of Sections 1-83 and 1-85 of this Act.”

Section 1-85 of the Act governing the presumption of pollution or diminution does not limit the sources of sampling data that may be used to prove the pollution or diminution has occurred.

And yet, the IDNR Rules in Section 245.620 have narrowed the statutory basis for the presumption, treating Section 1-80’s list of “indicator chemicals” as a comprehensive list of what should be tested for.  The 1-80 parameters are intended to be INDICATORS of the presence of contamination from hydraulic fracturing, not an exclusive list of the possible contaminating constituents.  There are over 700 chemicals used in fracking.  1-80 lists only a handful of them.  A reasonable person would conclude that if a chemical other than those on the list of indicator chemicals was found and that chemical was part of the list of chemicals in the fracking operator’s work plan, then the operator would be presumed to be responsible for that contamination.

Revisions Needed:  Section 245.620 must reflect the intent of the law that the operator will be responsible for any pollution or diminution caused by fracking.  This responsibility will not be limited to a list of indicator chemicals but will include all chemicals used in the fracturing process.

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The Burden Of Illinois Fracking – It is all on us

Please spare the people of Illinois of having the burden of Fracking disasters placed on their shoulders.

 

 

There was a full house–over 200– at the Carbondale IDNR hearing last night.  That makes over 1000 concerned Illinoisans have attended IDNR hearings against the weak IDNR fracking rules–many of them providing testimony.  IDNR and JCAR, are you listening?

Today (Friday) 12/20/13) is Day 36 of the comment period.

Today’s Topic: Starting the clock over when deficiencies are identified at, or as a result of, the hearing.

Comment:

Subsection 245.270(n), allows the applicant to attempt to correct deficiencies identified at the hearing, but places no time limit on such correction.  It also doesn’t require the Department to provide public notice of such correction. As such, applicants could, in principle, provide information to the Department on Day 59 of the 60-day permit issuance period, and the public would not find out about it until long after the permit had been issued.

Revisions Needed: This provision should specify a time window for applicants to provide corrections. It should also provide that the post- hearing public comment period must remain open for a sufficient number of days after that time window in order to provide the public adequate time to meaningfully review and comment on those corrections. It would not be unreasonable for deficiencies to be viewed as an incomplete application requiring that the 60-day clock start over.

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Illinois Frackers Burden Of Proof – Its all on us

Thanks IDNR for placing the burden of proof on the people of Illinois. Maybe they should rename these regulations as the Rape and Pillage of Illinois.

 

Day 35   12/19/13   

Topic:  Burden and Standard of Proof should be on applicant not persons requesting a public hearing.

Comment:

245.270.i states that parties requesting the public hearing and, if applicable, petitioning to participate in the public hearing shall have the burden of establishing the validity of their objections and concerns through the introduction of credible evidence. The standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence.

The provision concerning burden of proof in this subsection does not make sense in context.  In fact, it reverses the burden that otherwise applies to permit applicants; it is the permit applicant who must demonstrate that they are entitled to a permit. It should not be the hearing requestor’s burden to prove that the issues they raise are worthy of consideration.  To the extent that the person or persons requesting the hearing raise legitimate questions as to whether a permit should be issued—or issued with particular conditions—it must be the applicant’s responsibility to address those questions to the satisfaction of the Department.

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