Madison - St. Clair Record

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Motion to dismiss to be heard on June 12 in fracking lawsuit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 24, 2015

Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder scheduled a motion hearing for June 12 at 10:30 a.m. to address state officials’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Illinois landowners who want to suspend new rules for "fracking.'

Fairview Heights attorney Penni Livingston filed the lawsuit on Nov. 11 on behalf of plaintiffs challenging the process followed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) when it adopted rules for hydraulic fracturing.

The landowners argue that the IDNR violated statutory rulemaking procedures under the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HFRA) enacted by the state legislature in 2013. The Act requires the IDNR to adopt rules before permits can be issued.

Defendants IDNR, Director Marc Miller, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Secretary of State Jesse White argue that dismissal is proper.

The defendants say that the rules the plaintiffs intend to suspend in their suit are already effective, and have been since they were filed on Nov. 14. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, believe the rules became effective after publication, an argument the defendants oppose.

Fracking is a process where a high pressure fluid is injected into a wellbore to create cracks in deep rock formations through which natural gas and petroleum will flow.

The plaintiffs include Marie Smith of Madison County, Mark Donham and Sam Stearns of Pope County, Tabitha Tripp of Union County, Nathan Czuba of Cook County, Annette McMichael of Johnson County, Vito Mastrangelo, an attorney from Jefferson County and plaintiff co-counsel, and Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE).

“Plaintiff SAFE reports that the following health and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing have been recorded in scientific research: contamination of water supplies, displacement of wildlife, noise and light pollutions, earthquakes and seismic risks, silica dust hazards, low level radiation exposure, and increased burdens on infrastructure, especially in rural communities,” the lawsuit states.

Assistant attorney general Joshua D. Ratz of Springfield is representing defendants.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-CH-711

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