Illinois is the next state on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)‘s target list for putting the oil industry’s interests ahead of the public interest.
98 percent funded by multinational corporations, ALEC is described by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” and a lobbyist-legislator dating service. It brings together corporate lobbyists and right wing politicians to vote up or down on “model bills” written by lobbyists in service to their corporate clientele behind closed doors at its annual meetings.
These “models” snake their way into statehouses nationwide as proposed legislation and quite often become the law of the land.
Illinois, nicknamed the “Land of Lincoln,” has transformed into the “Land of ALEC” when it comes to a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) regulation bill – HB 2615, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act – currently under consideration by its House of Representatives. “Fracking” is the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional gas and oil is obtained from shale rock basins across the country and the world.
HB 2615 – proposed on Feb. 21 with 26 co-sponsors – has an ALEC model bill roped within this lengthy piece of legislation: the loophole-ridden Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.
As covered here on DeSmogBlog, this model bill has been proposed and passed in numerous statehouses to date. If the bill passes, Illinois’ portion of the New Albany Shale basin will be opened up for unfettered fracking, costumed by its industry proponents as the “most comprehensive fracking legislation in the nation.”
“If At First You Don’t Succeed, Dust Yourself Off and Try Again”
This isn’t ALEC’s first fracking-related crack at getting a model bill passed in Illinois. In 2012, the Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act – introduced as SB 3280 - passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate but never passed the House.
SB 3280 isn’t merely an ALEC model, but is a Council of State Government’s (CSG) model, too, as covered here on DeSmog.
The “disclosure” standards’ origins lay in the Obama Department of Energy’s (DOE) industry-stacked fracking subcomittee, formed in May 2011 ”to study the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and determine if there are ways, or even a necessity, to make it safer for the environment and public health.”
As exposed by The New York Times in April 2012, these ”disclosure” standards were originally written by ExxonMobil, first passed in Texas in June 2011, and now serve as both an ALEC and CSG model bill for the states. I say “disclosure” – as opposed to disclosure – because the bill includes loopholes for “trade secrets,” ala the “Halliburton Loophole” written into the industry-friendly federal Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Section 77 of HB 2615, titled “Chemical disclosure; trade secret protection,” also includes the same trade secrets exemption from the ALEC/CSG ExxonMobil-written model bill.
Ever persistent, ALEC has taken the late pop diva Aaliyah’s words to heart with regards to chemical fluids “disclosure,” at first not succeeding and dusting itself off and trying again. [cont’d.]