Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a fairly new method of obtaining gas and oil reserves by injecting massive volumes of water, sand, and chemicals underground at high pressures in order to break up rock formations. The extraction method is a hotly contested issue, with oil companies insisting that it is safe and touting its job creation benefits. Environmentalists, on the other hand, oppose fracking as a dangerous and environmentally unsound practice.
For years, fracking has pitted environmentalists and members of the oil industry against each other, but as a result of a cooperative effort by both sides, Illinois might soon adopt legislation that could serve as a national model for fracking laws throughout the country.
The Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee will discuss the proposed legislation later this week and, if approved, Illinois would have the strictest fracking laws in the nation, according to the Huffington Post. The proposed legislation seeks to find a middle ground between the oil industry, which wants to have free access to fracking, and environmental advocates, who want to ban fracking altogether.
Environmentalists and land owners protested the Illinois legislation on March 12, saying that fracking shouldn’t be allowed at all since it is unsafe and requires additional studies and investigation. According to the Daily Herald, Illinois environmental groups are seeking a two-year ban on the practice in order to allow environmental and health studies to be conducted and to provide more time for advancements in drilling technology. Illinois land owners are upset that their opinions were not taking into account during the legislation negotiations, citing fears of water contamination and possible earthquakes as a result of fracking.
Environmentalists point to studies showing that residents who live within a half-mile of fracking operations could be exposed to air pollutants five times more than the federal hazard standard. According to a string of studies in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado highlights the impact that fracking has on air-quality. Moreover, the chemicals used in fracking have been found to result in neurological or respiratory conditions, such as eye irritation, headaches, sore throat, and difficulty breathing.
The EPA issued its first-ever rules on fracking on April 19, 2012 to allow drillers to flare, or burn off, the gas produced during the process. Beginning in 2015, however, drillers will, instead, be required to collect the gas and they will not be permitted to burn it off. According to the Huffington Post, more than 170 bills were introduced in 29 states last year to regulate oil and gas drilling, with only 14 becoming law.
Controversies in other states surrounding fracking regulations include disputes about outright bans on fracking, setback requirements, requirements that fracking activities stay local, and bans on the use of toxic chemicals.
Exposure to toxic chemicals of any kind can lead to serious health complications. If you or a loved one has been involved in a toxic chemicals accident, the Chicago toxic chemical attorneys at Ankin Law Offices can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. The legal theories involved in toxic tort lawsuit, such as premises liability, defective product or wrongful death claims, are complex and require a thorough factual investigation and comprehensive examination of the applicable legal issues.
The Chicago toxic tort attorneys at Ankin Law Offices have considerable experience handling all kinds of personal injury cases and class action lawsuits, including toxic tort litigation. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 if you or a loved one has been injured as the result of toxic exposure or would like more information about Illinois’s proposed fracking regulations.