Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Watershed Victory Against Big Coal Nears in Illinois

Energy

Jeff Biggers

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

After waging a tireless six-year campaign in the historic Spoon River region of central Illinois, residents in the small town of Canton are celebrating a state hearing officer's proposed denial of a permit to a rogue coal company for a devastating strip mine.

While an appeal is still possible, this might be the most symbolic victory against Big Coal in 2012.

With the heartland facing a brutal surge in coal mining production, as operations shift westward from Appalachia, the seeming defeat of the proposed North Canton Mine should galvanize the efforts of besieged residents across southern and central Illinois—and across all 20-odd states fighting devastating strip mining and long wall mining operations.

"Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues was able to preserve and protect the environment, Canton Lake and its watershed!" said Brenda Dilts, on behalf of a group farmers, business people, health care professionals, teachers, attorneys, students and retirees, and camping, hunting and fishing enthusiasts, in announcing the Dec. 3 decision by Hearing Officer Jack Price on North Canton Mine permit #385. "I hope this is a beacon for others to follow."

Price ruled that a "preponderance of the evidence" demonstrated that the application for the mining permit "fails to comply with the State Act and its regulations."

According to Dilts, the Capital Resources Development Company and its parent Springfield Coal Company, which was recently found guilty of hundreds of clean water violations for a nearby strip mine in western Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have ten days to file exceptions to the permit denial.

It's been a long time coming for Dilts and her indefatigable group—almost a year to the day that members of CACEI and supporters from the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations bravely faced off against the coal company at a raucous public hearing and made their case for preserving the town's watershed and drinking water from the proposed strip mine.

The proposed strip mine would have released toxic discharges into the Copperas Creek and Canton Lake watershed—the sole source of drinking water for an estimated 20,000 people in the Canton area.

As I wrote last year, central Illinois is hardly a stranger to strip mining; the "rape of Appalachia," as author Harry Caudill once wrote of his devastated eastern Kentucky hills, got "its practice in Illinois." The birth of industrial strip mining, in fact, took place in nearby Vermilion County in the 1850s. As early as 1940, the destruction of central Illinois farms and waterways was so widespread that conservative Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen attempted to introduce the first federal legislation to regulate strip mining.

"I feel for everyone who has to go through this," Dilts said, referring to other coal mines in the Illinois Basin and across an estimated 20-odd states, "but it also proves that a group of citizens that really cares can get together, and make an impact. One step at a time. But we must keep moving forward."

Visit EcoWatch’s COAL pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less
Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less
Ian Sane / Flickr

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.

Read More Show Less