IDNR initiates further reforms to advance regulatory transparency
will increase public participation, strengthen controls within the
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[April 10, 2014]
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois
Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller has announced
significant reforms to further improve transparency and strengthen
regulations in the department's Office of Mines and Minerals. These
reforms continue the effort to rebuild and renew IDNR that the
administration of Gov. Pat Quinn began with Miller's appointment in
"The reforms being announced (April 3) are the most recent steps
to further restore the integrity of this agency and allow for
more public participation as we work towards becoming a national
model for transparency," Miller said.
Last week the IDNR committed to several reforms designed to
improve transparency and public participation in the coal
permitting process. The department also announced several other
concrete steps that will further advance the process.
These reform initiatives include:
In the wake of
recent failures of coal ash impoundments in North Carolina
and West Virginia, resulting in contamination, IDNR's Office
of Water Resources will visually inspect all coal ash
impoundments in Illinois for structural integrity to protect
our natural resources.
The IDNR has
added a position of general counsel to the Office of Mines
and Minerals to specifically focus on matters related to the
Illinois statutes and regulations related to coal and
aggregate mining, blasting and explosives, mine safety, and
abandoned mined lands reclamation. All permits will be
reviewed against legal standards by the general counsel for
the Office of Mines and Minerals before submission to the
director of that office.
internal oversight of permit applications:
proposes that two additional appointed members be added to
the State Mining Board and that two additional members be
added to the State Oil and Gas Board. Each board would add
two representatives of the general public who have no
financial interest in mining or oil or gas operations in the
state of Illinois.
Additional public oversight added
to state boards on mining, oil and gas:
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The IDNR has redesigned and updated
the oil and gas permit application, which will improve the
information exchange process and allow the agency to better
collect and review information from applicants.
The IDNR is strengthening its conflict-of-interest policy
throughout the agency in order to provide more specific guidance
to employees with respect to prohibited acts and areas of
potential or apparent conflict.
Conflict-of-interest policy update:
During the past year, Miller, the IDNR director, separated the
Office of Oil and Gas from the Office of Mines and Minerals, making
the Office of Oil and Gas Resource Management a distinct regulatory
office. The move significantly improved the office's regulatory
ability, resulting in a major increase in penalties imposed against
oil and gas companies. In the last six months of 2013, the office
collected more than triple the number of fines that were levied on
oil and gas companies in the previous 36 months.
Within the Office of Mines and Minerals, the IDNR has expanded
the use of federal Abandoned Mined Lands funding to support 17 new
staff positions, including mine inspectors.
Illinois Department of
file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]