Hydraulic fracturing panel told state law sufficient when it comes to disclosure

Participants listen to a presentation at a meeting of the IAR Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force. The group met in Springfield on Aug. 28, 2013.

A legal analysis of the state’s existing real estate disclosure laws for the Illinois Association of REALTORS® indicates current statutes offer sufficient guidance when it comes to property transactions in areas where there could be hydraulic fracturing.

IAR Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell and IAR Treasurer Jim Kinney speak at a Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force meeting in Springfield.

Todd Turner, a lawyer with Sorling Northrup law firm in Springfield studied existing state laws and disclosure requirements. His finding: “Nothing needs to change from a legal standpoint.”

Turner presented a review of existing state law at a meeting of IAR’s Hydraulic Fracturing Task Force which met in Springfield on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. The meeting was chaired by IAR Treasurer Jim Kinney.

Turner noted current state laws require material property defects to be disclosed in cases involving a long list of circumstances, including mine subsidence, foundation cracks, health concerns and “earth stability defects.”

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the state’s bill governing hydraulic fracturing in June. State regulators are formulating the rules which will underpin the law. It’s a process that could take a year, and ultimately has to go through the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Michael Ziri, a legislative liaison with the Department of Natural Resources, said he recently traveled to southern Ohio to look at how hydraulic fracturing was affecting communities there. Concerns discussed with him included increased traffic levels and housing availability.

Ziri outlined the law’s provisions for the panel, including regulations that require those engaging in hydraulic fracturing to alert property owners within 1,500 feet of the well, and requirements that drillers file detailed plans with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process where water and chemicals are pumped deep underground to force out oil and natural gas. The injections have raised concerns among residents in other states over water contamination and even earthquakes.

The issue is of particular concern in southern Illinois where shale deposits hold large quantities of oil and natural gas. There are some 17 counties that could see hydraulic fracturing interest in the state.

“I believe our current disclosures and common law in Illinois … pretty much cover the issue,” said Joe Hardin, a REALTOR® from Shiloh, Ill.

But he said emphasizing education about hydraulic fracturing was important for REALTORS® and consumers alike.

Mac Boyd, an Arcola, Ill., REALTOR® who primarily deals in farmland, agreed education was important.

“I think it’s new enough that we really haven’t gotten into that statewide. It’s going to be a big thing.” he said. “We need to make sure our people are more up to speed on this.”

Kinney said the task force will make a recommendation on the fracturing issue to the association’s leadership. He said the task force was created in response to lessons learned in other states where hydraulic fracturing is taking place.

He said the task force is an effort to make sure IAR and its members are ahead of the issue.

“It looks like the weight of the group is more toward going down the path of education,” Kinney said.

“I think our members are going to be fielding questions on this topic … it’s our responsibility to make sure our members know about it and that they have a resource to provide these answers,” Kinney said.

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About Jon Broadbooks

Jon Broadbooks is Director of Communications for the Illinois Association of REALTORS®. He supervises and carries out the implementation of the communications programs for the Association. He directs and supervises the Communications staff. He is responsible for coordinating and implementing the public relations and media relations efforts for the Association and acts as spokesperson and liaison to the statewide news media. He serves as editor of online and print content for IAR communications including the Illinois REALTOR® magazine and e-newsletters. He conducts IAR spokesperson training seminars and oversees the operation of website development for the Association.