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.
“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