September 10, 2014
After years of attempting to obtain a coal mining permit, Sunrise Coal’s application for the Bulldog Mine has been deemed “complete” by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
A “complete” permit does not mean that the permit has been issued; rather, IDNR has determined that the permit contains “information addressing each application requirement” and “all information necessary to initiate processing and public review.” The boxes have been checked and the blanks have been filled in – but as we all know, just because a student answers all the questions on a test does not mean the student receives an “A.”
More than 40 Champaign and Vermilion County residents, farmers, and business-owners gathered with Stand Up to Coal in Homer, IL last week to discuss what a “complete” permit means and how they can get involved in the public process.
Until Friday September 19th, those with an interest which may be adversely affected by the mine have an opportunity to comment on the permit and to request an “informal conference” – a public meeting where comments and objections to the permit can be discussed with IDNR.
An interest which may be adversely affected could include:
- The use of prime farmland, which could be taken out of production forever. The coal mining process damages tile drains and eventually causes subsidence (sinking of the land) lowering productivity of the rich soil in this region.
- Air free of coal dust, which would blow off the coal piles southeast of Homer at the processing facility and off trucks and railcars during transit, threatening public health. Coal dust is known to cause respiratory problems and contains heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, selenium, and chromium.
- Access to clean drinking water supplies, which would be threatened by coal slurry containing heavy metals and chemicals used during the washing process. Slurry in pits up to one square mile and 100 feet high could seep into ground water and potentially breach retaining walls.
- Use of local roadways, which would be damaged by transportation of heavy mining equipment as well as the constant use of coal trucks. This not only disturbs the homes of those nearby, but places the burden of repair on local taxpayers.
- Aesthetic and recreational interests in the proposed mine area and the watershed of the Olive Branch and Salt Fork River, where wastewater will be discharged. Pollution could interfere with integrity of these treasured places.
The permit application has also been uploaded onto the Stand Up to Coal website here. It is a large document, but we would encourage anyone with an interest in protecting the land and water of Champaign and Vermilion Counties to take a look. Everyone brings their own local knowledge and a different perspective.
If you have any questions about the permit process or would like to get more involved, contact Tyler Rotche at 217.344.2371×206 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In the News:
30 Days To Stop A Coal Mine, WICD-15 (September 3, 2014)
Many attend mine meeting, WCIA-3 (September 3, 2014)
Coal mine opponents at Homer hope to stop permit, State Journal-Register (September 4, 2014)
Opponents of coal mine gather tonight in Homer, News-Gazette (September 3, 2014)