Foresight Energy LP profits rise at the expense of quality of life, clean water and clean air in Illinois

Pond Creek Mine was Foresight's first mine in Illinois. Tons of coal produced from its four mines in Illinois totaled 18 million in 2013; up from 15.1 million tons in 2012. A second longwall operation at Sugar Camp Mine longwall is expected to bring Foresight's full annual capacity to 32.7 million tons/year.

Pond Creek Mine was Foresight’s first mine in Illinois. Tons of coal produced from its four mines in Illinois totaled 18 million in 2013; up from 15.1 million tons in 2012. A second longwall operation at its Sugar Camp Mine  is expected to bring Foresight’s full annual capacity to 32.7 million tons/year.

While there may have been excitement on Wall Street this week as Foresight Energy LP began trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Illinois residents living in the shadow of a Foresight Energy LP coal mine have a different story to tell.

The financial community lauds the chutzpah of Chris Cline’s Foresight Reserves, which controls St. Louis-based Foresight Energy. At a time when coal was on the decline in Appalachia, Cline moved his base of operations into the Illinois basin and bought up 3 billion tons of cheap, high-sulfur Illinois coal reserves. It currently operates four non-union mine complexes in Illinois, with others planned in the future. The mines include Pond Creek Mine, Williamson County; Sugar Camp Mine, Franklin/Hamilton counties; Deer Run Mine, Montgomery County; and Shay 1 Mine, Macoupin County.

This all may sound great to an investor, but Foresight’s rise to success has come at great expense to the people and environment in Illinois.

The greatest expense of a mining operation is the loss of life. Since November 2013 two deaths have occurred at Foresight’s M-Class Mining LLC – MC#1 Sugar Camp Mine, a longwall mine in Franklin County. Longwall mining provides the coal producer higher return but at great risk to the miners.

SL500 01In longwall mining, the coal seam is divided into long panels about 1,500 feet across and 3 to 4 miles long. Rather than leave pillars for support, hydraulic roof supports are put in that run the entire length of the panel. A cutting head runs along the face of the seam, knocking the coal down onto a conveyor belt. With each cut the entire longwall unit—shearer, conveyor and hydraulic roof supports move forward and the roof behind the unit is collapsed, filling in the open space. Because the roof is constantly collapsing behind the mine, the technique is considered inherently dangerous.

Longwall mining creates a condition called planned subsidence. As the panels collapse underground the land overhead drops up to 6 feet, leaving cornfields and backyards like sunken bathtubs. The subsided land also negatively impacts structures such as homes and outbuildings, water wells, springs, farm ponds, and surface drainage.

Numerous homes have been removed and families displaces above Foresight's longwall operation.

Numerous homes have been removed and families displaced above all Foresight’s longwall operations.


Damaged roads and bridges and flooded agricultural fields disrupt the lives of residents living in the shadow area of a longwall mine. The shadow area is the surface area above the underground mine. Foresight shadow areas are anywhere from 5,000 acres to 10,000 acres.

Rather than pay to repair or replace a resident’s home from subsidence damage, Foresight often buys people out and bulldozes the structures. Entire neighborhoods have been obliterated around Foresight’s Pond Creek, Sugar Camp and Deer Run mines. While this may be profitable for Foresight, the expense to the residents’ sense of community and family legacy is incalculable.

Residents left living or working around the periphery of a Foresight mine have to endure the daily health hazard of coal dust infiltrating their lives and lungs, and 24/7 noise from conveyors, air vent blowers, trucks, loaders, bulldozers, and trains. Area residents must contend with lower property values, lost property taxes, increased truck traffic and train delays, damaged roads, contaminated air and water, and loss of prime farmland.


The outer walls of a coal slurry impoundment often rise 50 to 90 feet high. An impoundment is classified as high-hazard if its failure or miss-operation will probably cause loss of human life.

Before coal is sold it is washed with massive amounts of water to remove impurities such as clay, silt and rocks. The leftover waste material is stored in on-site impoundments. Larger material such as rocks and pieces of coal are called course refuse, while slurry, made up of a combination of silt, dust, water, bits of coal and clay particles, is called fine refuse. The coarse refuse is used to construct the impoundment dam, which then holds the fine refuse or slurry, along with any chemicals used to wash and treat the coal at the coal preparation plant.


October 11th, 2000, thick liquid coal processing waste contained in a Martin County Coal Corporation impoundment broke through the impoundment wall into an underground mine shaft, eventually dumping more than 300 million gallons of toxic sludge into the area’s rivers.

Slurry impoundments have been known to fail, as was the case in Martin County, Kentucky on October 11, 2000 when the bottom of a slurry impoundment broke into an abandoned underground mine below.  An estimated 306,000 gallons of slurry polluted hundreds of miles of the Big Sandy River and its tributaries and the Ohio River. The water supply for over 27,000 residents was contaminated, and all aquatic life in Coldwater Fork and Wolf Creek was killed. The spill was 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez oil spill and considered one of the worst environmental disasters ever in the southeastern United States.

The original coal slurry impoundment at Deer Run Mine is quickly exceeding it's 140-acre, 90-foot-tall capacity.

The original coal slurry impoundment at Deer Run Mine is quickly exceeding its 140-acre, 90-foot-tall capacity.

Residents in Montgomery County, Illinois are extremely concerned about slurry waste impoundments at Foresight’s Hillsboro Energy, LLC Deer Run Mine. The first impoundment built 5 year ago is an approximately 140-acre, 90-foot-tall high-hazard impoundment. Less than 5 years later, because the first impoundment is not adequate to hold all the toxic coal slurry, the mine is now proposing to build a second disposal area nearly twice the size of the first with a 240-acre impoundment held back with a 60-foot-tall dam. Both impoundments will hold coal waste in perpetuity behind high-hazard dams above the towns of Hillsboro and Schram City.

It irks the residents that their county tax money covers the emergency action management of the high-hazard waste impoundments, yet no sales or severance tax is collected on the coal that leaves the ground.

Sugar Camp has been given a 1-year emergency permit to drill and inject polluted mine water into deep injection wells.

Sugar Camp has been given a 1-year emergency permit to drill and inject polluted mine water into deep injection wells. Citizens were not given the opportunity to comment or participate in the permitting process.

Last month an unexpectedly large volume of groundwater infiltrated Foresight’s Sugar Camp Energy LLC Sugar Camp Mine. Not only were the miners put at risk, but the groundwater, high in chloride and dissolved solids, presented a threat if released to surface waters. Therefore, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had to issue an emergency permit for two Underground Injection Control (UIC) wells authorizing Sugar Camp Energy to inject wastewaters between 7,500 and 12,900 feet underground into limestone and sandstone formations. Because of the emergency nature of the permit, local residents were unable to comment or participate in the permitting process.

Shay1_waste_impoundment_May_2009_IMG_26161Pollution from salts and heavy metals poses problems at other Foresight mines as well. For example, Foresight acquired Macoupin Energy, Shay #1 Mine located in Macoupin County from ExxonMobile in 2009. Along with the operating coal mine, Foresight also inherited a slurry impoundment that was polluting groundwater with salts and heavy metals. Nearby water wells have been affected, which has possibly contributed to serious health issues of some residents. Since then state regulators at the Illinois EPA issued a violation notice for the groundwater pollution and have now referred the case to the Illinois Attorney General.

Foresight has its sights on expanding existing mines as wells as starting up new ones. Foresight’s Sugar Camp Energy, LLC has submitted a mine application for the Logan Mine No. 1, a longwall mine proposed for Franklin, Jefferson and Hamilton Counties. Landowners, who together own approximately 1,500 contiguous acres in Franklin County, are being pressured by Foresight to sell their land for the mine’s surface facility.  The mineral rights to each parcel of land were severed from the deeds in 1948. The mineral deeds say that the mineral owners have the right to reasonable access to the minerals. The landowners contend taking the entirety of 1,500 acres, including an Illinois Centennial Farm, is not reasonable.

The time has come for coal operators like Foresight Energy LP to pay the true cost of the coal that benefits them so greatly. How many more miners have to die, how many more families have to be uprooted and communities destroyed, how much more farmland has to be sunk and degraded, how much more water and air has to be polluted, and how many more toxic coal slurry waste impoundments have to be constructed for the benefit of coal producers at the expense of Illinois citizens?

Tell the Governor the time has come to Protect the Prairie State from Coal Mining–Take Action Here!

Illinois DNR Rejects Coal Mine Proposal After Scofflaw Company Defaults On Bond Obligation

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently rejected a permit renewal application for Springfield Coal Company’s Industry Mine.  Citing failure of financial obligations, the June 4 permit denial marks a significant step toward stronger enforcement of coal mining regulations in Illinois.

“By denying this permit, IDNR is letting Springfield Coal and the mining industry know that they need to follow the rules,” said Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Advocate for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “For too long Springfield Coal has been allowed to flout the law and pollute our water supply – hopefully those days are now over.”

The Industry Mine, located in McDonough County, has long been guilty of poor mining practices that endanger the environment, drinking water and public health.  Between 2004 and 2011, the mine violated its Illinois EPA permit a staggering 624 times.  The Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, and Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) sued the mine in 2009.

IDNR denied the permit because Springfield Coal, the owner of the mine, refused to post a bond that is legally required to ensure the site gets cleaned up and restored after the company is finished mining.


Industry Mine Photo: Joyce Blumenshine

“We are pleased to see the Department continuing to strengthen its regulation of dangerous mines in our state,” said ELPC staff attorney Jessica Dexter.  “This is one step of many that are needed to rein in bad actors and protect our water and citizens.”

The move follows an agreement in April by IDNR Office of Mines & Minerals to initiate a number of reforms in its coal mining permit program; a commitment welcomed by rural Illinois citizens who have long called for stronger enforcement of laws to protect their communities and water supplies.

“Business as usual is over for the Industry Mine but reforms need to continue,” said nearby resident Kim Sedgwick who has battled the devastating impacts of this mine for over a decade. “The Industry Mine site still needs to be reclaimed and IDNR needs to implement the measures it promised in April.  Residents and environmental organizations have repeatedly called on IDNR to better protect the state’s natural resources from the impacts of coal mining— public water supplies should be off limits to coal mines and bad actors should be denied mining permits.  IDNR needs to listen to our concerns and start protecting our communities.”


Traci Barkley (PRN):  217-621-3013

Cindy Skrukrud (Sierra Club): 312-251-1680×110

Manny Gonzales (ELPC): 303-880-5954


Citizens’ Frustrations at Mine Hearing Underscore Need For Reform Measures

Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently announced some much needed and welcomed State mining program improvements within the Office of Mines & Minerals (OMM). But, it’s only a start. As was evidenced by citizen frustration at a recent public hearing more changes need to be made, people need to be heard, and OMM needs to continue to improve program implementation .
Deer Run Apr 9 2015 overview A deerrun4The Hillsboro Energy, LLC Deer Run Mine located within the city limits of the City of Hillsboro in Montgomery County has been a source of frustration for area residents since its inception nine years ago. The June 4th, Illinois EPA permit hearing regarding pollution discharges from a new, giant coal waste disposal area at the mine was no exception. The story has been one of a complicated and segmented permitting process, bait and switch tactics, and a very murky public process.

photo(1)Wednesday evening’s IEPA hearing was particularly frustrating because of the ongoing, misleading tactics used by the mine operators. When the original OMM permit #399 was approved the public was told ‘there are no existing or proposed refuse impounding structures (dams) in the permit area’ [1], but later the original below ground disposal area was changed to an approximately 140-acre, 90-foot-tall high-hazard impoundment.

The original coal slurry impoundment at Deer Run Mine is quickly exceeding it's 140-acre, 90-foot-tall capacity.

The original coal slurry impoundment at Deer Run Mine is quickly exceeding it’s 140-acre, 90-foot-tall capacity.

Less than 5 years later, because the first impoundment is not adequate to hold all the toxic coal slurry, the mine is now proposing to build a second disposal area nearly twice the size of the first with a 240-acre impoundment held back with a 60-foot-tall dam. Both impoundments will hold coal waste in perpetuity behind high-hazard dams [2] above the towns of Hillsboro and Schram City.

Cathy Edmiston (left), leader of CALM / Citizens Against Longwall Mining, explained to the panel, “Citizens never got their opportunity for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Administrative Review of the original mining permit #399."

Cathy Edmiston (left), leader of CALM / Citizens Against Longwall Mining, explained to the panel, “Citizens never got their opportunity for an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Administrative Review of the original mining permit #399.”

The IEPA hearings on the waste impoundment were limited in scope to discharges of pollutants and the mitigation for streams and wetlands the new impoundment will be built on. While residents are certainly concerned about the discharges, they believe the entire project has been misrepresented from the beginning and that they’ve never had a chance for their concerns to be adequately addressed in any meaningful way.

medArea resident, Mary Ellen DeClue, points out that OMM never addressed the real issues in the community when it approved the Deer Run Permit. “OMM didn’t consider the two impoundments that will be a blight and threat forever in Hillsboro. It didn’t consider the negative impact on real estate values or the loss of property taxes with over 20 homes torn down. It didn’t consider the loss of our airport, the damage to our road, or the loss of our prime farmland. No consideration was given to the fact that county tax money covers the emergency action management of high-hazard waste impoundments, yet no sales or severance tax is collected on the coal that leaves the ground. OMM never considered our increased exposure to health hazards, the forced delay on county roads with coal train passage, or the contamination of our water and air. These are real social and economic effects from Hillsboro Energy, LLC.”

Gary Sneed, CALM volunteer, remarked to the panel that the standard protocol for the mine self-reporting pollution violations is like, “the fox watching the hen house.”

Gary Sneed, CALM volunteer, remarked to the panel that the standard protocol for the mine self-reporting pollution violations is like, “the fox watching the hen house.”

The hearing Wednesday evening was viewed as just another in a series of futile exercises in a process that needs major reform.

We couldn’t agree more.

The following  is our assessment of where OMM is now and what improvements need to occur.

OMM Assessment

Transparent Public Process
Instead of requiring accurate and complete applications at the start of the permitting process, OMM routinely approves initial permits and then allows operators to make unlimited substantial changes through permit revisions. Residents have the right to know that what is initially being proposed is what they are going to be living with in the end.

OMM should have known at the time that the first Deer Run permit was approved that the coal waste storage area was not sufficient for a mine of nearly 5,000 acres. Hillsboro citizens and local officials had the right to know from the very start that they were going to be faced with living under the threat of at least two huge, high-hazard dams looming over their community.

In addition to requiring complete application the start of the permitting process, fees should be required for all reviews of permit revisions. The fees should be substantial enough to cover OMM costs for repeated staff reviews of changes at mine sites and to motivate mining companies to submit their complete plan at the start.

Some improvement shown recently with the commitment by IDNR to initiate a rule change to require mining companies to pay permit fee at time of application rather than after permit approval.

Protect Public Water Supplies from Coal Mining
OMM should not permit coal mines that threaten public water supplies. The Deer Run Mine is located in the watershed that feeds Hillsboro Lake, a backup water supply for area residents. The proposed new coal waste impoundment would sit in an area with a high water table and above a void present from earlier mining, which could threaten the structural integrity of the impoundment. The Deer Run mine is a threat to groundwater that feeds Hillsboro Lake.

OMM should not approve mining operations in watersheds serving as public water supplies.

Better protect Illinois’ natural resources
OMM needs to do a better job protecting our natural resources, water resources and prime farmland from damages resulting from coal mining and mine subsidence. Deer Run mine discharges into Shoal Creek watershed, adding pollution to one of Illinois’ finest streams and will subside nearly 5,000 acres of prime farmland.

The new proposal calling for OMM to not deem any permit application administratively complete until the IDNR Division of Ecosystems and Environment completes its impact assessment is a positive change, but farmland subsidence is an issue that literally falls through the cracks of the current system.

Bad actors
OMM should not give renewal or revised permits to operators that have previously and regularly violated permit limits. Deer Run has had a number of problems over last 3 ½ years meeting permit limits.

OMM consistently overlooks habitual violators.

The people of Hillsboro and other mining areas of Illinois need the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to quickly get to the task of rulemaking in order to complete the promises that resulted from the Banner Mine decision and to continue with additional reform measures. The time has come for OMM to step up and Protect the Prairie State.

Recent Commitments to Reform at
IDNR’s Office of Mines and Minerals

  • Notification of a mine permit application when it is filed, not when IDNR determines that the application is administratively complete as is the current practice.
  •  The mining company shall pay its per acre fee upon application for a mining permit, rather than when a permit is approved.
  • The mining company will be required to appear at permit hearings and be prepared to answer questions.
  • Free access to the transcript of any public hearing conducted under the Mining Act will be available.
  • IDNR will not interfere with the public’s right to timely action on their concerns regarding a mining proposal.
  • IDNR agrees to not block citizens’ efforts to raise their serious concerns regarding mining projects or dismiss concerns for procedural reasons.
  • Ensures that Director of IDNR retains complete oversight of the Office of Mines and Mineral’s activities.
  • All permit applications must include an impact statement from the Department’s Division of Ecosystems and Environment completes its impact assessment.

For a more detailed list of OMM reform measures click here.

Back to Top

[1] at p. 67 and more replies from OMM that there would be no dam at this mine at p. 72 and 73.

[2] The Hazard Potential Classification system considers the immediate physical damage that would result from the sudden release of the large volume of liquid and solid material held back by the dam or impoundment and categorizes dams based on the probable loss of human life and the impacts on economic, environmental and lifeline interests (critical infrastructure, highways, bridges, utilities). High-hazard potential means failure or miss-operation will probably cause loss of human life.

Fracking Power Play Falls Short in Springfield

The sponsors of legislation to dictate fracking regulations to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have said that it will not be called for a vote before the end of the General Assembly’s spring session.

This is a big victory for opponents of fracking – thank everyone who reacted quickly, especially over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, to reach out to their State Representative in opposition. The outcry helped make the bill so unpopular among lawmakers that it was clear there were nowhere near the votes needed for passage.

With this threat seemingly out of the way, Illinois DNR can continue its work to revise the flawed first draft of fracking rules, issued in November of 2013. The many problems with those roles generated a major outcry from tens of thousands of Illinois citizens demanding major changes to make the rules as strong as possible.

Illinois DNR has indicated that they intend to complete the rulemaking process by November 15th, the deadline under law. With the threat of SB649 out of the way, we call on IDNR to listen to the public and make the major changes that are essential to making Illinois’ fracking rules a strong as possible.

Thanks again to everyone who responded to our calls to action, contacted your state legislator, and made this win possible!

Legislation To Unlock $30M For IL Solar Projects Goes To Quinn

Today the Illinois House passed House Bill 2427, which unlock $30 million in clean energy funds for Illinois solar energy projects.

Solar energy is ready to add cost-effective, pollution-free power to the Illinois electric grid, and create good jobs for our electrical workers, laborers, carpenters.  These funds won’t come from taxpayers, but have already been contributed by electric suppliers to the Renewable Energy Resources Fund.

We are confident that Illinois Power Agency Anthony Star Director and his team can invest these funds in Illinois projects that bring jobs and clean air to our cities, suburbs, and downstate communities. This is a great first step toward meeting goals Illinois has already set for increasing solar energy in our state. We salute the work of Senator Don Harmon and State Representative Gabel on this legislation, and we were proud to work with utilties, labor unions, consumer advocates, an solar businesses to develop this program.

Since Illinois set clean energy goals in 2007, we have seen over 20,000 jobs created, lower energy costs, and pollution reduced by the equivalent of removing one million cars from the road. To keep those benefits coming to Illinois, critical updates are needed to our Renewable Portfolio Standard, and we are disappointed that legislation that would make those updates did not pass this Spring. We will continue to advocate for proposals such as SB103 (Frerichs)/HB2864 (Mautino) that keep our Renewable Portfolio Standard working as a job creating, pollution reduction engine.

More information about our work to promote clean energy in Illinois is located at

Sierrans Celebrate Earth Day 2014!

All across Illinois, Sierra Club members took part in activities throughout the week to celebrate Earth Day, be outdoors, and help our planet! Here our a few highlights:

Valley of the Fox Group helped elementary students plant White pine tree seedlings at the Hawthorn Hill Nature Center in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day.  Water Sentinels also hosted a river clean up along the Indian Creek, a tributary to the Fox River.


In northwest Illinois, the Eagle View Group held an environmental film fest.

River Prairie Group celebrated at the Glen Ellyn Park District with stargazing, music, and friends.

Connie Schmidt and Moira Noll

Moira Noll and Connie Schmidt

The Heart of Illinois Group held a table on April 19th to educate local residents about the dangers of coal ash.

Piasa Palisades Group celebrated their 3rd annual Riverbend Earth Day Festival- with over 900 residents enjoying outdoor activities along the Mississippi River.  People in attendance attended a clothing swap, crafting, and local nature workshops, and planted over 100 trees!

Virginia Woulfe-Beile working a table at Piasa Harbor

Virginia Woulfe-Beile working a table at Piasa Harbor

Our Blackhawk Group hosted an Earth Day concert with the music of Pete Seeger!

The Sangamon Valley Group held a booth at their local Earth Day Fair where they made lettuce and wildflowers seed balls.  


Deborah Stone, Cook County Chief Sustainability Officer, was the honorary speaker at an event held by our Northwest Cook Group, where volunteers also helped with habitat restoration.

The Prairie Group held a happy hour in Champaign where members discussed local environmental issues and presented an award to State Representative Naomi Jakobsson for her environmental service.

Thank you Sierrans for celebrating Earth Day!

Lawsuit Challenges Validity of Illiana Tollway Authorization

Groups Challenge IDOT’s Move to Override Smart Regional Planning

CHICAGO (April 17, 2014) – Today the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), representing the Sierra Club and Openlands, filed a lawsuit in the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County to halt the proposed Illiana Tollway. The lawsuit contends that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has no authority to continue developing the proposed 47-mile tollroad.

The lawsuit against IDOT, the Board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the MPO Policy Committee alleges that an October 2013 vote by the MPO Policy Committee to approve amending the GO TO 2040 Plan to include the proposed Illiana Tollway as a financially constrained project was in fact illegal. State law required that the inclusion of the Illiana Tollway first be approved by the CMAP Board—which rejected the amendment in a 10-4 vote just one week earlier.

The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring that the proposed Illiana Tollway hasn’t received the necessary approval to proceed.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation is violating Illinois law by spending public funds on the proposed Illiana Tollway, which the Chicago Metropolitan Area for Planning voted to reject for the regional transportation plan,” said Howard A. Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the Plaintiffs’ attorneys. “Illinois state law requires CMAP’s approval, which IDOT cannot legally circumvent. The Plaintiffs are requesting that the state court declare the agencies’ actions to be unlawful and enjoin IDOT from spending any public funds on the proposed Illiana Tollway.”

The CMAP Board, with representatives of Chicago and seven suburban counties, was following its staff report’s recommendation, which found that the Illiana Tollway wasn’t needed and would expose the region to financial risk and environmental devastation without any appreciable transportation benefits.

“CMAP’s GO TO 2040 Plan is the result of years of work by thousands of citizens and leaders, and it is a good plan for our region,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “When the CMAP Board voted to reject the Illiana, they did so in the best interests of our region. When IDOT’s MPO Policy Committee reversed that finding, they undermined the GO TO 2040 Plan and they broke the law. When we make plans for the good of the region we need to stick by them, not allow politics to override them like IDOT did in the case of the Illiana.”

“The vote by the MPO Policy Committee—in defiance of the CMAP Board—was a politically-motivated vote for bad planning that destroys the integrity of the GO TO 2040 Plan,” said Openlands President & CEO Jerry Adelmann. “In addition to destroying thousands of acres of productive agricultural land and severing rural communities, the proposed Illiana Tollway would denigrate state and federally protected natural areas—including Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie—with noise, exhaust, and light.”

CMAP’s staff also found that the proposed Illiana Tollway could require a public subsidy of up to $1.1 billion. IDOT’s own studies show that fewer than 20,000 vehicles would use the Illiana per day up to as late as 2040. CMAP was well prepared to evaluate the project and spent years crafting a broad GO TO 2040 Plan, a framework for future transportation spending in the region.

Yet, the MPO Policy Committee, chaired by IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider, approved the project by an 11 to 8 margin, potentially makingIllinois taxpayers responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in costs not covered by the project’s hoped-for private financing.

ELPC also represents Openlands and Sierra Club in another pending lawsuit in federal court.  That lawsuit, filed in July 2013, alleges that the “Tier 1” environmental impact study for the Illiana tollway was legally inadequate, in part because the study was based on population and employment forecasts that differed significantly from CMAP’s.  Plaintiffs are filing a motion for summary judgment tomorrow, April 18.