Decision on IDNR Permit Expected This Week

According to this Elkhart Truth article, the IDNR is expected to announce a decision regarding the Bulldog Mine permit #429 by this Friday (3/6).  At that time, they could decide to approve it or reject it.  They could also send the application back to Sunrise Coal for modification.  In the latter case, Sunrise Coal would have 1 year to make the requested modifications.

Regardless of the decision on the IDNR permit, Sunrise Coal will also have to receive a water discharge permit from the Illinois EPA.

The IDNR permit is just the first step in a lengthy process.

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Bulldog Mine Update … Still No Permits

What’s next for the proposed Bulldog Mine?

The Bulldog Mine has just recently completed its public hearing stage for the mining permit application. Over the course of two hearings (October 7 and December 17), hundreds of concerned residents voiced their concerns about Sunrise Coal’s proposed Bulldog Mine.

These recent hearings were part of a permitting process administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Before mining can begin, however, Sunrise Coal must receive two permits: one through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and another through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

What’s next for the permit application with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources?

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in the state of Illinois. Through several state laws, IDNR reviews permits for coal mining and reclamation operations.

The permit application for the proposed Bulldog Mine has now gone through its public hearing and public comment stage. Now review of the permit is back in the hands of IDNR, where agency staff will consider all comments and information submitted at the two public hearings and in written comments. IDNR will also review additional research related to the permit application.

By February 27th, a decision must be made to issue, deny, or require modifications of the application.

If modifications are necessary, Sunrise Coal will have 1 year to submit modifications or the application will be denied. If the modifications are approved, Sunrise Coal will need to submit a required bond and fee to receive the permit.

What’s next for the permit application with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency?

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for a separate permit under the Clean Water Act. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits outline the type and amount of pollution that Sunrise Coal can discharge, where it will be discharged, and how often discharges will be monitored.

Like the IDNR mining and reclamation permit, at some point the Illinois EPA will issue a public notice for the draft permit.

When it is posted, the permit will look similar to this draft permit:

http://www.epa.illinois.gov/Assets/iepa/public-notices/2015/knight-hawk/public-notice.pdf

The public will then have the opportunity (over 30 days) to submit written comments or request a public hearing. If a public hearing is requested, the Agency will give 30 days’ notice.

Concerned residents can use the public comment periods to submit information on water quality, the recreational values/uses of the waterway receiving pollutant discharges, and other studies and surveys that would be relevant — like those related to stream biology and the presence of endangered species. It will also be a chance to point out any mistakes or improper pollution limits in the draft permit.

The Agency will consider these written and oral comments in their evaluation of the permit.

What can concerned residents do to protect our land and water?

  • Continue to advocate for the productive farmland, clean air and water, safe roads, and way of life that we cherish in east-central Illinois.
  • Sunrise Coal is now years behind schedule. The company has 0 of 2 permits necessary to begin mining and is still missing a number of crucial resources – including mineral rights necessary to even carry out YEAR 1 of their mining plan.
  • Keep a lookout for the NPDES public notice
  • When the NPDES permit is available for public review, Stand Up to Coal will send a notification and be available to help with draft comments, questions, and concerns.
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Public Hearing Well Attended

The Jamaica High School gymnasium was packed with people interested in commenting on and asking questions about the permit application for the proposed Bulldog Mine.

The public spoke for about two and a half hours. Supporters of the proposed mine mostly made lofty comments about the employment opportunities and potential economic benefits of the mine. Many mine employees read prepared statements by Illinois elected officials in support of the project.

Opponents of the mine, many of them members of Stand Up To Coal and Prairie Rivers Network, mostly highlighted deficiencies in the permit application. Some important omissions were mentioned, including insufficient attention to the biological diversity of the Salt Fork watershed; lack of attention to obtaining water from Homer and Georgetown; and questions about the mine’s legal ability to use local farm drainage infrastructure to carry its water discharge.

It’s important to note that additional comments may be submitted to IDNR for the public record until December 29, 2014. More details can be found on our website.

Media Coverage

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IDNR Public Hearing Announced

Updated December 9 with flyer.

The IDNR has announced that the public hearing for Sunrise Coal’s Permit Application #429 for the proposed Bulldog Mine in Vermilion County.

The IDNR staff should be on hand and familiar with the permit application.  They should be available to answer some questions on-site, as opposed to the informal conference where they only took comments.

As before, please attend, even if you don’t wish to speak.  It is important to demonstrate to the IDNR how many residents are opposed to this proposed mine.

What: Public hearing to make comments and ask questions.  This will be the final opportunity to share comments with the IDNR.  They will be required to approve or deny this permit 60 days after the public hearing.

When: Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 6:00PM

Where: Jamaica High School gymnasium

7087 North 600 East Rd.

Sidell, IL 61876

 

The permit application can be viewed on our website: Permit Application

Public Hearing Flyer

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Informal Conference a Big Success!

Last Tuesday, a little over 100 people gathered at the Georgetown Community Center for the IDNR informal conference regarding Sunrise Coal’s permit application for the proposed Bulldog Mine.  The audience was split between pro-mine folks (mostly Sunrise Coal miners) in bright yellow t-shirts and Stand Up To Coal members and friends with their “Stand Up To Coal” stickers.

Approximately 33 people made statements, of which only 5 were in favor of the mine.  Most of the anti-mine comments hit upon particular shortcomings of the permit application or the general mine plan.

Take Action:

  • The record for the informal conference will be open until October 17.  Written comments can be part of this record if they are sent to IDNR (click the link for the address).
  • A public hearing has already been requested.  According to IDNR staff, this should take place in late November or early December.  The entire technical staff from IDNR will attend that hearing.

Some highlights:

  • Tony Beck, one of the first landowners to lease his coal rights, stated that since leasing his more than 2700 acres, he has watched Sunrise Coal cause sinkholes on his land with their bore holes.  He has decided that their current plan does not allow for sustainable agriculture and wishes he had not leased his mineral rights.
  • Bob Jennings, the Oakwood Village president, pointed out that the application makes no mention of the fact that Oakwood draws its drinking water from the Salt Fork River.
  • Joyce Blumenshine, with the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club, pointed out that the current application does not have any plans for the additional slurry impoundments that will be required for a mine of this size and longevity.
  • Dwaine Berggren, a retired geologist, found that the application’s coverage of geology was not thorough enough.  It fails to point out that many local wells draw from waters seeps in the limestone that is 40-60ft below the surface.  Plans for the slurry impoundment show that it will be only 16-20ft above the limestone, and thus, the aquifer.
  • Debbie Campbell, an Urbana resident, talked about a friend who gave up coal mining for a healthy life.  She mentioned that slurry impoundments emit a very unpleasant odor.
  • Jonathan Ashbrook, a local resident, pointed out that if the coal is trucked from the site, up to 220 coal trucks per day would be added to local roads.

Media Coverage:

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