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Ohio Utica Shale

Illinois governor signs tough drilling regulations

By Bob Downing Published: June 18, 2013

From the Associated Press:

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday signed into law the nation's strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling.

"This new law will unlock the potential for thousands of jobs in Southern Illinois and ensure that our environment is protected," Quinn said in a news release announcing his widely expected signature on the bill that he pushed for and that the Legislature passed overwhelmingly a few weeks ago.

The new law establishes rules that oil and gas companies must follow during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals to crack underground rock formations and release oil and natural gas. Companies will be required to disclose chemicals and to test water before and after drilling as well as hold the companies liable for contamination.

Opponents of the legislation — who unsuccessfully pushed a 2-year moratorium to allow more time to study the environmental and health impact of fracking — said they are considering a legal challenge to the law.

"We have already put together a legal team with attorneys from all over the country to look at various aspects of the bill," said Annette McMichael, a property owner in Johnson County who belongs to a coalition that opposes fracking. "We are looking at what legal avenue to pursue."

One of the sponsors of the bill, Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-Champaign, said the fact that fracking is already happening in Illinois makes the law that much more important as the state moves to "protect the environment while allowing for job creation."

Environmental groups that helped craft the legislation said they were hopeful the safeguards will address their continued concerns about the method's "environmental impact."

"The environmental community looks forward to working with the governor and agencies to make sure that this bill is strongly enforced," Jan Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, said in statement released by Quinn's office.

According to Quinn's office, the law would make Illinois the first state in the nation to require hydraulic fracturing operators to submit chemical disclosures to the state both before and after fracking, as well as require the companies to conduct water testing before the fracking process and then again a number of times after it's completed.

While state records indicate that hydraulic fracturing has begun on a limited basis in parts of Illinois, it will it will be a while before it begins in earnest because the state's Department of Natural Resources must hire dozens of new engineers, inspectors, attorneys and other experts.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.