As coal reserves dwindle in Appalachia and overseas demand for coal is surging, Illinois Coal Basin communities are faced with a surge of new coal mining. Unfortunately, today’s coal mines use bigger machines to dig more coal while employing fewer people than ever – and the consequences for Illinois‘ land and water are mounting.
The Problem: Coal Mining Destroys our Rich Farmland and Threatens Clean Water
Strip mining destroys thousands of acres of farmland, forests and streams as coal companies blast and dig through solid rock to reach coal. Unfortunately, mining companies in Illinois are usually granted permission by regulatory agencies to mine through streams and wetlands – this loss threatens water quality downstream.
Coal mines in Illinois still rely on outdated pollution control technologies, if any, that do not remove the harmful pollution in mine wastewater and site runoff before it is discharged into rivers, streams and lakes. Most mines in Illinois process coal onsite, which generates millions of gallons of coal slurry, a mixture of water, coal, waste rock and chemicals, including harmful salts and metals. When runoff from slurry pits and “reclaimed” mine sites is discharged, it often contains elevated levels of sediments, salts and metals, threatening clean drinking water as well as the health of hunters and anglers that rely on healthy wildlife.
The Solution: Protecting Clean Water in Illinois from Coal Mining
Prairie Rivers Network fights to strengthen or oppose permits that threaten clean water in Illinois. We also provide technical and organizing assistance to local communities to help them protect their clean water supply from coal pollution.