"A Grand Bargain on Fracking? Lessons from Springfield, Illinois," Barry Rabe's latest blog post
A Grand Bargain on Fracking? Lessons from Springfield, Illinois
by Barry Rabe
Editor's Note: A new Illinois statewide policy on shale development and the possible use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) procedures was just passed with overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers. Barry Rabe explains the significance of this legislation and how this aspect of the Illinois experience is worthy of national attention.
Paul Simon would likely be very proud. Throughout his long and distinguished service to Illinois in both state government and in Congress, he understood the complexities of combining energy development with environmental protection. This reflected his home base in downstate Illinois, with its significant fossil fuel deposits and extensive environmental treasures.
Simon died a decade ago and so never lived to address the issue of shale development and the possible use of hydraulic fracturing procedures in the very sections of Southern Illinois that he dearly loved. But he clearly would have applauded the type of multi-year effort that brought very diverse stakeholders together to develop a comprehensive new statewide policy on this issue. Indeed, that legislation was just passed with overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Patrick Quinn.
This law neither bans fracking nor tips the scales in favor of development with only modest restrictions. Instead, it reflects some extended and careful elements not found in most other states that have moved more rapidly into shale development. In particular, the new Illinois legislative package includes far more extensive chemical disclosure provisions than are common elsewhere, a severance tax mechanism designed to return some revenues to affected local communities, and expansive citizen participation mechanisms.
Perhaps most significantly, Illinois now will also require water testing before and after any drilling occurs, allowing for careful comparison that is simply not possible in most other states and drilling cases. This testing is coupled with a presumption of liability in the event that water contamination is detected after drilling. The widespread lack of such testing has led to huge uncertainty and controversy around the nation. … continued at Brookings.edu.