A group of Southern Illinoisans and environmentalists have filed a lawsuit in Madison County seeking to stop the state's fracking rules from being published this week in the Illinois Register. Publication of the regulations, related to the state's Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, triggers the start of fracking in Illinois.
Residents and Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE) filed their complaint against the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Gov. Pat Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White. Plaintiffs claim the fracking rulemaking "violated mandatory statutory and administrative rulemaking procedures and is therefore invalid." They are seeking a preliminary injunction that "directs the IDNR to renew the rulemaking process" for the fracking regulatory act.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved the IDNR's revised fracking rules last week.
The lawsuit argues the rulemaking process was flawed because scientific studies were apparently not considered by the IDNR for the first draft of the rules.
"Those opposed to fracking in Illinois have pushed the importance of scientific studies related to fracking since the beginning," Natalie M. Laczek, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said in a release. "This form of fracking is highly controversial and there are many dangers involved. IDNR should have considered the science from the beginning of this process as required under the law."
The plaintiffs also argue that IDNR "gave insufficient notice of public hearings," failed to "make an agency official available to answer questions at the public hearings" and "turned away" some citizens at a Chicago public hearing, among other complaints.
"We showed up for the Chicago hearing, but myself and a group of people were turned away," plaintiff Nathan Czuba added in the release. "We were not allowed to be part of this process."