On Thursday, February 21, two Illinois State Representatives proposed a bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the state. The proposed legislation, House Bill 2615, was prepared after months of negotiations between lawmakers, the oil and gas industry, and environmental concerns.

The bill includes a number of additional requirements for the oil and gas industry but has been hailed by the industry as a positive legislative step forward.
After the HB 2615 was proposed, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn praised the bill as being good for the state’s economy.

The bill is supported by the oil and gas industry, in part because of the lengthy negotiations process that occurred before the law was drafted between the industry, environmental community, and state legislators.

Thus, while some environmentalist critics of the bill urge support for a two-year moratorium on fracturing in Illinois, the comprehensive negotiations that occurred prior to the bill’s drafting mean the bill will probably be enacted into law by the legislature.
The proposed legislation would enact a number of requirements on the oil and gas industry, including:

  • A requirement that fracking fluid be stored in closed tanks;
  • Limitations on flaring of natural gas;
  • A requirement that fracking chemicals be disclosed to the public;
  • A state web site where drilling applications will be made available to the public; and
  • A legal “rebuttable presumption” that oil and gas drillers are liable for water-source contamination near high-volume fracking operations unless proven otherwise.

This article was prepared by Barclay R. Nicholson (bnicholson@fulbright.com or 713 651 3662) from Fulbright’s Energy Practice.