By Patrick D. Joyce, Philip L. Comella, and Craig B. Simonsen

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ proposed rules on “High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing” were recently approved, and will soon be published in the Illinois Register.

Bloomberg BNA reported that the Illinois’ Joint Commission for Administrative Rules (JCAR), approved the DNR rules implementing the Part 245: Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act – Revised Rules on November 6, 2014.

Although the final rules are substantially similar to draft rules released by DNR on August 29, 2014, there are some key differences:

  • Public Participation and Transparency: The final rules clarify how the public can comment on pending fracking drilling permits.  The final rules also require oil and gas companies to disclose water use volumes, chemicals used in their fracking fluids, and anticipated flowback rates of fracking fluid to the surface.
  • Enforcement: The final rules enhance penalties for administrative violations, to a maximum penalty of $5,000 per day.  In addition, the final rules include new well site safety requirements, new flaring reporting requirements, and strengthen DNR’s ability to oversee and remedy potential water pollution violations.
  • Environmental Protection: The final rules require oil and gas companies to test wastes and fracking fluids for radioactivity, require monitoring of air emissions during flowback and production, and require companies to restore land to its original condition once drilling has ceased.  The final rules also prohibit flowback fracking fluids from being stored in open pits for more than seven days.

We previously blogged about the draft fracking regulations when they were first proposed. In addition, Phil Comella recently gave a presentation to a group of professional engineers titled: “All About Fracking”.

Feel free to reach out to the authors, one of Seyfarth Shaw’s Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Permitting team members, or your Seyfarth attorney with any questions on this important topic.