November 12, 2014- Several Southern Illinois citizens and SAFE (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment) have filed a complaint against the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Nine violations in total show that rulemaking procedures were not followed as required under Illinois law. Plaintiffs are requesting an injunction be granted against the recently passed Horizontal Fracturing Regulatory Act (HRFA) rules.
Complaints include the fact that IDNR’s first notice did not consider scientific studies when creating rules for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing. This violates one of the central purposes of rulemaking—allowing the public an opportunity to address specific information a public agency relies on. “Those opposed to fracking in Illinois have pushed the importance of scientific studies related to fracking since the beginning,” says Natalie M. Laczek, one of the attorneys representing Plaintiffs, “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.”
Also at issue is that IDNR violated Illinois Administrative procedures by not having agency representatives available to answer questions at public hearings. Some citizens were denied admittance, and some were not allowed to speak. “We showed up for the Chicago hearing, but myself and a group of people were turned away,” says Plaintiff Nathan Czuba, “We were not allowed to be part of this process.”
Other counts cover items such as the fact that IDNR did not put the HFRA rules on their regulatory agenda, they gave insufficient notice of public hearings, and they did not submit a required report to the Illinois General Assembly by an established date. Plaintiffs in this case have requested a preliminary injunction that directs IDNR to renew the rulemaking process for HFRA.