Sierra Club Releases “Tales from the Pit,” A Collection of Firsthand Accounts of Illinois’ Resource Extraction Rush

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Contact: Terri Treacy,

CHICAGO, IL—It’s the scary season, but some horror stories are no fun at all.  This month Sierra Club launched a spooky series of stories, ‘Tales from the Pit,’ about resource extraction threats casting shadows across the Illinois countryside. The stories are submitted by citizens who live near these sites and have experienced firsthand the horrors of damaging resource extraction.

“The rush to mine coal and fracking sand in Illinois is a nightmare for those of us living near mines that threaten our drinking water, pollute our air, destroy communities and wreak havoc on farmland,” said Peggy Enquist of Ottawa.  “To save our communities from these threats we need mining reform in Illinois. ”

Coal use is on the decline nationally. But here in Illinois a growing international export market and the relatively low cost to mine coal has led to a surge of new mine proposals. The increased demand combined with inadequate regulation and enforcement have locals concerned about drinking water pollution, loss of farmland and quality of life.  Also, increasing demand for sand used in “fracking” operations has led to new proposals for open pit frack sand mines, including adjacent to Starved Rock State Park.

Some of the stories highlighted at “Tales From the Pit” focus on new industry dangers like the frack sand mine stalking Starved Rock State Park. Then there are half-dead threats like the North Canton coal strip mine that, if built, will pollute the drinking water supply of half the population of Fulton County. Others are environmental nightmares like the mine with over 600 documented violations of the Clean Water Act.

Sierra Club and local residents are calling on Illinois DNR and Governor Pat Quinn to strengthen protections against mining pollution and damage, and to crack down on mining companies that repeatedly violate environmental laws.

“If this movie is going to end well for communities in rural Illinois, it’s going to take more than silver stakes and cloves of garlic to save the day,” says Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club,  Illinois Chapter.  “We need real protections for people and their drinking water, and strong enforcement of those laws.”

“Across Illinois, big industry is mining and digging up the Prairie State in pursuit of dirty fossil fuels, and it’s time for the state to step up its efforts to protect people, wildlife, drinking water, and prime farmland,” said Terri Treacy, Conservation Field Representative for the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.

The Tales from the Pit stories can be found at, and new horror stories will be added in the days ahead.