SB3327 – Shield Illinoisans with Improved Setbacks

Check the status of this bill: SB3327

The Risk:  Placing fracturing wells too close to people, water, animals and wells of any kind carries the following threats: water contamination, fugitive emissions of dangerous VOC’s – impacting the public health, induced seismic threats, increased noise and light pollution, fires and blowouts at the well site and infrastructure –  that can spread to dwellings and animal enclosures, flowback and produced waters leaking from wells, trucks and evaporation ponds contaminating the air, water and land with possible radioactivity and chemicals –  exposing the residents, livestock and domesticated animals.  And the high pressure used in fracturing, if performed in fracturing wells too close to old wells or other secondary wells of any type, carries with it a risk for blowouts of those secondary wells, and greatly increases the chances of water and land contamination via the secondary well as a conduit.

Overview: 

  • The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, (HFRA), as passed, was insufficient to protect the public health, air quality and water quality near fracturing fields. Setbacks are presently 500 ft from homes, schools and hospitals and 300 ft from surface water; this is not protective enough.
  • The oil and natural gas industry openly accepted liability for water contamination within 1,500 feet of the wells in  HFRA. This indicates that within 1,500 ft from fracturing operations there is a great risk of water contamination, shouldn’t the State of Illinois be attempting to prevent water contamination rather than dealing with the liability after the contamination occurs?
  • A recent health risk assessment of air emissions showed that residents living a half-mile or less from gas wells are at a greater risk for health effects than those living more than a half-mile away.  (Mackenzie, L., Witter, R., et al. “Human health risk assessment of air emissions from development of unconventional natural gas resources”. Science of the Total Environment. 424:79-87, 2012)
  • Last year a study was published which suggested that exposure to fracturing operations increased the overall prevalence of low birth weight by 25 percent and that babies born within 1.5 miles of wells had more health problems. http://dyson.cornell.edu/research/researchpdf/wp/2012/Cornell-Dyson-wp1212.pdf 
  • Methane and other ozone precursor emissions such as nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) can lead to increased respiratory morbidity and mortality. (Colborn, T., et al. “Natural gas operations from a public health perspective. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment”. 17:1039-1056, 2011)   Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil & Bad Air on the Texas Prairie, http://insideclimatenews.org/fracking-eagle-ford-shale-big-oil-bad-air-texas-prairie
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are also present in significant amounts; the EPA defines these as “exogenous agent(s) that interfere with natural hormones in the body which are responsible for the maintenance or homeostasis, reproduction, development and/or behavior.” (EDSP Archive. Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Cited Dec 11 2011.)
  • Leaked flowback and produced waters form frack wells have led to documented instances of fish and livestock deaths. (Bamberger, M. and Oswald, R. “Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health”. New Solutions. 22(1): 51-77, 2012)
  • At the request of residents in Pavillion, Wyoming, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a three-year water quality investigation of private drinking water wells. The EPA released a draft analysis of its data in December 2011 which indicated ground water contamination by compounds likely associated with natural gas production activities. (EPA. Draft Report of Groundwater Investigation, Pavillion , WY . Region 8. December 8, 2011)
  • AP did a review of reports of water contamination, last year, and found that in at least four states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas), that have welcomed fracturing operations, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them. This review casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/some-states-confirm-water-pollution-from-drilling/4328859/ 

Purpose of bill:

  • To increase the distance from the closest edge of a well site to habitable structures, residences, public buildings, water wells, old oil and natural gas wells, surface water, developed springs used for human or domestic animal consumption, perennial streams or other water sources, or nature, land or water reserves to 1,500 feet. Amends exceptions to the distance requirement for certain land owners.
  • To add provisions for appropriate distance from the closest edge of a well site to nuclear power plants or nuclear waste storage facilities. Adequate distances between fracturing operations and nuclear power plants are obviously necessary to protect the nuclear power plants from the small seismic events, blowouts and fires that frequently occur on and around the fracturing fields, and to protect residents around nuclear power plants from undue alarm, and from any possible emergencies that might arise from siting an explosive, industrialized process such as fracturing too close to nuclear power plants.

Solution:

  • Co-sponsor and support SB3327 – The State of Illinois should act to prevent the air pollution, water contamination and public health effects that are known to occur near fracturing operations. This includes increasing the setbacks to a more science-based distance to protect Illinoisans from the impacts of fracking. If Dallas, TX, in the heart of oil country, can pass an ordinance with 1,500 ft setbacks, then Illinois can too, http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/council-now-tackling-gas-drilling-for-the-last-time.html/

One response to “SB3327 – Shield Illinoisans with Improved Setbacks

  1. Pingback: “The Green Dozen” | Frack Free Illinois

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