Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The shale gas industry has performed the “shock doctrine” at the 11th hour of the 2013 Illinois State Legislature’s debateover hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drllling process through which oil and gas is obtained from shale rock basins nationwide.
This year, both the Illinois House and Senate are set to adjourn for the year on May 31 and HB 2615 – the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act - will likely receive a full floor vote by adjournment. The regulatory bill has 59 House co-sponsors and eight Senate co-sponsors. Democratic Party Gov. Pat Quinn said he will sign the bill when it arrives on his desk.
With the deadline looming rapidly, anti-fracking activists – or “fracktivists” – have been protesting, sitting in, testifying in committee hearings and committing acts of non-violent civil disobedience daily at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
Two days before that deadline, the Associated Press (AP) reported that records from the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicate fracking already has begun in Illinois’ New Albany Shale Basin.
“Carmi, Ill.-based Campbell Energy LLC submitted a well-completion report last year to the [DNR] voluntarily disclosing that it used 640,000 gallons of water [fracking] a well in White County,” AP reports. AP also explained the report was first obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The last-minute announcement paves the way for a “buzzer beater” public relations effort by the industry to ram through a regulatory bill deemed the “most comprehensive fracking legislation in the nation” by its proponents and a “worst case scenario” by its detractors. The bill was predominatly written by Illinois Oil and Gas Association (IOGA), working alongside two major environmental groups: the Illinois Sierra Club and NRDC.
NRDC told DeSmogBlog it caught wind of the Campbell Energy well-completion report not from the industry itself at the negotiating table, but through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The FOIA request also showed another company has fracked a well: Strata-X Energy Ltd.
Among other things, the bill allows fracking to take place within 1,500 feet of groundwater sources and 500 feet of schools, houses, hospitals, nursing homes, and places of worship; and within 300 feet of rivers, lakes, ponds and reservoirs. Necessary context: the horizontal drilling portion of the fracking process extends between 5,000-7,500 feet.
“We need to acknowledge that fracking is legal today in Illinois, and for all we know, may already be occurring as you read this,” Sierra Club Illinois‘ Director Jack Darin wrote ambiguously in a Feb. 2013 Huffington Post piece.
Darin’s ominous hypothetical scenario proved true, begging the question: did the industry hide this from those it was at the negotiating table with until the last minute? Darin could not be reached for comment at the time this article went to press.
Fracking Well Owned by IOGA Board Member, Connected to Lake Michigan Oil Drilling