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Smith v. Illinois Department of Natural Resources

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20250
Nos. 14-CH-711, (Ill. Cir. Ct., 11/21/2014)

An Illinois court denied residents' motion to preliminarily enjoin the state's proposed hydraulic fracturing rules from going into effect. Illinois' environmental agency promulgated the rules under the state Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act on November 14, 2014, but they will not go into effect until the Secretary of State adopts and publishes them. The residents filed suit arguing that the agency failed to follow proper rulemaking procedures and sought a declaratory judgment that the rules are invalid as well as a preliminary injunction to bar the rules from going into effect. Although the residents have a clearly ascertainable right needing protection and demonstrated that there is a "fair question" as to their likelihood of success on the merits, the residents failed to establish that they will suffer irreparable harm if the rules become final. Conclusory allegations that some of the residents have land near areas where someone may apply for a hydraulic fracturing permit do not demonstrate irreparable harm. No applications have been filed, let alone granted. Their motion to bar the rules from being adopted, therefore, was denied. But the court will allow discovery and briefing on the underlying issue.