A judge in southwestern Illinois has denied a bid by a landowners group to suspend the state’s new rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to show they would suffer immediate harm if fracing was to go forward, reports Kentucky.com.
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder rejected the request for a preliminary injunction on Friday, three days after she heard arguments about the rules meant to regulate fracing. Crowder’s ruling dealt only with whether the rules taking effect would cause “immediate” harm – a worry that a state attorney dismissed during the hearing as premature.
Vito Mastrangelo, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the rules drafted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources were procedurally flawed, among other things because the DNR allegedly did not consider scientific studies and had no representative available to answer questions at statewide public hearings last year. Mastrangelo said, “[The ruling] is very disappointing because we thought we made a very clear case that the (DNR) didn’t follow statutory rules for rule-making. That means now there are invalid rules, the DNR will be implementing them and drillers will be applying for permits based on them,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The fracing law was initially touted as a compromise between environmental and industry groups, back in 2013, but cooperation broke down over successive drafts of the bill. The law was approved unanimously by the state legislature Nov. 6 following a long process during which 30,000 public comments were addressed.
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