Friday, August 29, 2014

IL Dpt of Natural Resources Issue Long-Awaited Rules on Fracking

SPRINGFIELD, Aug 29, 2014 – The Illinois Department of Natural
                      Resources (IDNR) today delivered revised rules to
                      implement the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act.
                      The revised rules were submitted to the Illinois
                      General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative
                      Rules (JCAR) for a required second public notice
                      period.

                      Based on a record level of public participation
                      following release the first draft last fall, the IDNR
                      has substantially strengthened and clarified several
                      sections of the proposed rules.  Passage of the HFRA
                      and the subsequent rulemaking process generated an
                      unprecedented amount of feedback. Five public
                      hearings were held around the state, and the agency
                      received more than 31,000 comments amounting to
                      43,000 pages from members of the public, units of
                      local government, environmental organizations and
                      industry.  The annotated copy of the revised rules,
                      including comments and the agency’s responses to each
                      issue area, can be found at: www.dnr.illinois.gov.

                      “As the agency charged with standing up a brand new
                      regulatory program, it was important that our staff
                      took the time needed to consider all the public
                      feedback and do the job right,” said IDNR Director
                      Marc Miller. “We believe the revised rules submitted
                      to JCAR today accurately reflect the intent of the
                      law, and take into account the concerns of our
                      constituents.”

                      Following the start of the second public notice
                      period, JCAR has 45 days to consider the proposed
                      regulations. JCAR can request an additional 45 days.
                      By delivering the revised rules in time for the next
                      scheduled JCAR meeting on Sept. 16, IDNR has insured
                      that JCAR has adequate time to complete its work.
                      Rules must be adopted within one year of first
                      notice, which for this rulemaking will be Nov. 15,
                      2014.


                      Key changes to the rules:

                      Public participation
                      • Strengthened public disclosure on water volumes and
                      fracking chemicals used.  245.210(a)(8)
                      • Clarified rules to protect ability for public to
                      comment during permit approval process. 245.260
                      • Clarified rules to ensure that public hearings are
                      held in the County where the proposed well site is
                      located. 245.270(b)(2)
                      • Strengthened rules regarding permit modifications
                      to ensure greater public notification and comment
                      opportunities. 245.330

                      Transparency
                      • Improved transparency and public notification if
                      water pollution problems occur. 245.615
                      • Strengthened rules governing  chemical disclosure
                      and use of trade secrets 245.710 & 245.720
                      • Strengthened and clarified rules regarding trade
                      secret disclosure to health professionals to protect
                      public safety.  245.730
                      Enforcement
                      • Strengthened Well Site safety plans. 245.210
                      (a)(12)
                      • Strengthened department oversight to identify water
                      pollution problems. 245.620
                      • Increased transparency and toughened enforcement
                      penalties for violations.       245.1120
                      • Clarified reporting requirements for annual flaring
                      reports. 245.930

                      Environmental protection
                      • Expanded rules to cover all types (non-water) of
                      fracturing technologies 245.100
                      • Required that drilling fluids, cuttings, and waste
                      be tested for radioactivity and be stored
                      appropriately 245.510
                      • Strengthened rules to protect fresh water zones
                      from hydraulic fracturing fluid contamination during
                      operations. 245.840
                      • Clarified rules to ensure that flowback materials
                      are not stored temporarily in open reserve pits for
                      more than seven days. 245.850(c)
                      • Raised threshold requirements for claims of
                      economic unreasonableness regarding flaring; required
                      the use of auto igniters, improved monitoring
                      requirements. 245.845 & 245.900
                      • Strengthened land restoration requirements.
                      245.1020


Monday, August 25, 2014

ILLINOIS TO PARTICIPATE IN MULT-STATE DRILL FOR EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS IN OCTOBER

SPRINGFIELD – People in northern California were jolted awake Sunday morning by a 6.0 earthquake that damaged buildings and injured at least 200 people. As officials in California deal with the quake’s aftermath, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) stressed the importance of earthquake preparedness in Illinois and encouraged people to take part in a worldwide earthquake drill set for Oct. 16.

 “The Napa Valley earthquake is a reminder that earthquakes happen without warning,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “With two major seismic zones here in the central U.S., we all need to be prepared to take quick actions to stay safe during an earthquake. The Great ShakeOut is a good way for schools, businesses, families and others to practice the life-saving ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ moves.” At 10:16 a.m. on Oct. 16, millions of people in 39 states, the District of Columbia and several countries around the globe are expected to participate in The Great ShakeOut. The drill is designed to raise awareness about earthquake risks and the ways people can stay safe when the ground starts shaking. Illinois has participated in ShakeOut drills for the past four years. In October 2013, more than 523,000 Illinoisans took part in the nationwide earthquake drill.

To date, more than 237,000 people in Illinois are registered for the October ShakeOut event. Monken noted that some of the most powerful earthquakes to ever occur in the U.S. happened a little more than 200 years ago in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which reaches into southern Illinois. That series of earthquakes lasted for several months and shaking was felt as far away as the East Coast. Schools, businesses, government agencies, families and others can register to participate in the drill at www.shakeout.org/centralus.

 Registered participants will receive additional information about the drill and earthquake preparedness. While the international drill will take place on Oct. 16, individual drills can be conducted anytime within two weeks of that date. The drill focuses on the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” protective actions people should take when an earthquake begins: “Drop” down to the floor, take “Cover” under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture, and “Hold On” to the furniture item and be prepared to move with it until the shaking stops. Additional information about the earthquake risk in Illinois and steps to take before, during and after an earthquake is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

AG MADIGAN INVESTIGATES LABOR PRACTICES AT CHINESE BUFFET-STYLE RESTAURANTS IN ILLINOIS

─ Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced a joint investigation by her office and the Illinois Department of Labor into wage violations and discriminatory practices against immigrant workers employed at Chinese buffet-style restaurants in Illinois. Madigan and the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) are investigating allegations of wage payment and minimum wage violations and discrimination against a largely immigrant workforce serving as kitchen labor for many Chinese buffet-style restaurants throughout Illinois. Workers who have complained to Madigan’s office alleged they typically work 11-13 hours per day, without breaks, six days a week, and are housed by restaurant owners in crowded, substandard conditions. Madigan and IDOL have jointly issued subpoenas regarding workers’ claims that they are routinely being underpaid, discriminated against based on their race or national origin, and in some cases forced to work under threats of abuse and violence. In announcing the investigation, Madigan urged any current and former workers of a Chinese buffet-style restaurant in Illinois to immediately contact her office to report wage abuse or discrimination in the workplace. Workers should contact Madigan’s Civil Rights Bureau at 1 (877) 581-3692. “We take claims of wage violations and discrimination very seriously,” Madigan said. “My office is actively investigating the complaints we have received, and I’m encouraging anyone else who has endured such abuse to come forward so we can work to put a stop to these substandard labor practices.”

Video Coverage of Candidate Speeches from Republican Day at the State Fair

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, on veto of HB 4075 and HB 5331, the Bills that would have Regulated Ride-Sharing Firms in IL

"I'm disappointed that the two bills I worked on this spring to put consumer safety first and provide a fair marketplace for the ridesharing services were vetoed. I disagree with the contention that this should be decided only locally, as these services stretch across city and county lines and the bills would provide important baseline protections that local governments could build upon. Both the main bill and trailer bill received overwhelming support in the House and Senate in the spring. I will now talk with my colleagues and evaluate the best path for moving forward. It is clear to me we need to provide consumers with the assurances they will get to their destinations safely when they use these services."

Should Illinois Mandate Sprinkler Systems be Installed in New Home Construction?

ILLINOIS CHANNEL PROGRAMMING We all know there are fire sprinklers installed in commercial buildings, but should we require homes to have fire sprinklers installed? In new construction, the Fire Marshall's office says the cost would add around $5000 or so -- spread out over a 30 year mortgage. They say that would also lower your home insurance cost which would largely offset the small monthly additional cost of financing $5000. Here's our interview on the issue and demonstration of how the sprinklers would work in the home.

Gov Quinn Vetoes Bills That Would Have Placed Tougher Regulations on Ride-Sharing Firms

BREAKING -- Gov Quinn VETOES two bills that would have place tougher regulation and restrictions on ride sharing businesses -- like Uber and Lyft. In a veto statement, the Gov said, "a one-size-fits-all approach" is the wrong way to go and that ride-sharing businesses are "best regulated at the local level." The bills that were passed this spring and supported by cab companies would have required drivers who wish to use their personal vehicle to make money picking up passengers -- to pay higher fees on face stricter regulations -- that the ride-sharing firms argued would have been so expensive and difficult to comply with, that the regulations would have put the ride-sharing firms out of business The two pieces of legislation that were vetoed are HB4075 and HB5331, which were supported by taxi drivers, who said it would have protected riders and drivers. UBER argues it already has a more stringent background check on drivers that do cab companies in Illinois -- and told the Illinois Channel in an interview, that it has rejected some Illinois cabbies who applied to drive for UBER, because they had felony convictions in other states -- where Illinois only checks cabbies for convictions in Illinois. In a statement issued earlier today, Gov Quinn's opponent in the November election, Bruce Rauner, had urged the Governor to Veto the legislation.