BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — McLean County has the ability to regulate but not to outright ban a company from injecting carbon dioxide into an underground rock formation, the county’s top prosecutor said.
In a Sept. 28 letter to the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals, Ericka Reynolds, the state’s attorney, said the wells to hold the potentially toxic gas can be regulated through special use permits. Such permits are granted when the county feels that a use is appropriate for a certain area.
It matters because controversy has erupted across central Illinois as companies have sought to put in carbon pipelines and carbon capture wells in or near populated areas. Residents have pushed back because they feel it’s unsafe or possibly harmful to the environment.
In May, the county’s ZBA dealt with a proposed change in the county’s rules regarding carbon dioxide sequestration. At that meeting, several spoke out in opposition to plans for a pipeline as well as the wells. The zoning board of appeals decided to make the matter a special use rather than a permitted use.
Again, the difference is that requiring a special use permit will make anyone seeking to put a well in to go before a board or committee to get approval.
In McLean County, the wells can not be within 1,500 feet of a home or a school. Those rules are the same as they would be for oil or gas drilling, according to county records.
Reynolds noted in her 7-page letter that such technology is relatively new and there’s not a lot of case law dealing with it. But she did note that simply banning wells to protect the Mahomet aquifer wouldn’t pass legal muster and as such, wasn’t recommended.
That’s because the state’s Groundwater Protection Act doesn’t give local governments that authority, she wrote.
But Reynolds noted counties like McLean can regulate through the use of the permitting process and require setbacks and other rules to insure the wells are in the proper locations for public safety.
In McLean County, the wells can not be within 1,500 feet of a home or a school. Also,