Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Legislative Round-Up

The current session of the Illinois General Assembly has included several major pieces of legislation addressing water resources in Illinois. We’ve briefly summarized a few of those bills here as a general Water Wednesday update. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all that’s proposed; for a complete update on what’s going on in Springfield, check out the Legislation and Laws portion of the Illinois General Assembly webpage.

Note: Re-referred to the Rules Committee indicates that this measure did not pass, or didn’t make it out of committee; however, any bill in the Rules Committee can be reintroduced.

  •  Creates the Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act 
  •  The Department of Natural Resources would develop an offshore wind energy siting matrix for  the public lands of Lake Michigan 
  • Allows DNR to grant offshore wind energy development site assessment permits and leases for construction and operation 
  • Creates the Offshore Wind Energy Economic Development Policy Task Force to analyze policy and economic options for developing and selling offshore wind energy

Status: The Environment Committee recommends this measure be adopted, and this bill has been through its Second Reading on 3.15.13. Currently, several co-sponsors have signed on.

  • Allows DuPage and Peoria counties to adopt a schedule of fees for property that benefits from the county's stormwater management efforts. 
  • Creates conditions for a fee schedule, fee uses, and requires that fee schedules be approved by a referendum in Peoria County. 
  • Counties must inform municipalities of proposed fees and seek their input. 
  • Counties must provide landowners at least 2 years' notice before imposing the fee, provide education on green infrastructure practices, and either reduce or eliminate fees for property owners who reduce or eliminate runoff. 
  • Counties may jointly administer stormwater management and fees with other local governments.

Status: This measure was passed by the House and sent to the Senate on 3.15.13  
For more information about stormwater policy in Illinois, check out this explanation from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  

Hydraulic Fracturing Bills:

HB 3086–Two-Year Moratorium/Ban  
  • Amends the Illinois Oil and Gas Act. 
  • Prevents high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations (fracking) until after the Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force, created by this act, provides its findings and recommendations 
  • The Task Force will conduct a thorough review of the regulation of hydraulic fracturing operations in Illinois and make recommendations for future regulations 
  • Establishes membership of the task force, which shall present its findings to the General Assembly within two years. 
  • Repeals the provisions creating the Task Force on July 1, 2016.

Status: Re-referred to the Rules Committee on 3.22.13

  • Creates the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, which prohibits high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations without a permit. 
  • Regulates where high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations are located. 
  • Sets requirements for permits, including applications, insurance, construction and drilling, disclosures, water quality monitoring, investigation and enforcement, violations and penalties, and administrative review. 
  • Allows the Department of Natural Resources to create the necessary permit rules. 
  • Amends the State Finance Act. 
  • Creates the Mines and Minerals Regulatory Fund.

Status: Re-referred to the Rules Committee on 3.22.13
Media coverage of the addition of Amendment 3, which resulted in the re-referral 

Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) Disposal Bills:

  • Amends the Environmental Protection Act 
  • Disposal of PCBs less than 500 feet above an aquifer serving as the sole source of drinking water to a community becomes Criminal Disposal of PCBs.

Status: Re-referred to the Rules Committee after failing to pass the House

  • Amends the Environmental Protection Act. 
  • Any site for the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or PCB Items that is located less than 500 feet above an aquifer providing the only source of potable water for a community is defined as a pollution control facility. 
  • These facilities must obtain local siting from the governing body of each county and municipality located, in whole or part, within the aquifer's boundaries. 
  • These facilities may not handle any PCBs or PCB Items unless the owner/operator of that facility can show the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that they have obtained complete local siting approval.

Status: Various committees have added multiple amendments, but this measure is slated for a Second Reading on 4.10.13.