And that is a problem.
As I’ve noted previously, there are virtually no laws governing hydraulic fracturing in this state. As it stands now, anyone with a hundred bucks can get a permit and within two days, frack to their heart’s content. Obviously, the status quo is completely untenable for anyone who cares about the health, safety and economy of Illinois. Especially as a land lease tsunami has raged in portions of the state for would-be-frackers to accumulate fracking rights on other people’s property.
So as discussions stall in Springfield, the interests of Illinoisans are left flapping in the wind, with entire communities completely and unacceptably exposed to the array of well known risks associated with the controversial oil and gas extraction technique.
We must do better. And it had looked like that was the intention as the General Assembly began addressing the problem. Progress was made to better protect the public, private property and the health and safety of people.
But the momentum seems to have plateaued, and we are left with potentially the worst possible outcome: the Legislature mired in other problems, and neither the regulatory bill, nor proposed moratorium bills, moving forward.
This would leave the vagaries of “business uncertainty” about possible future regulations or Common Law litigation, as the only lines of protection left for many in the state. And at least one company has already planned to forge ahead before the end of the second quarter.
As things stand, Illinoisans' health and livelihoods are in harms’ way. There is certainly time between now and the end of the Legislative session in May when many of the meatiest issues are traditionally addressed. But this uncertainty has many concerned that Illinois is failing to heed the hard-learned lessons from other states that failed to put tough protections in place before very risky, uncontrolled fracking moves forward in this state, and risks manifest themselves, irrevocably, in our communities.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.