Public Information Meeting Follow-Up

On September 3, 43 community members attended a public information meeting regarding the Bulldog Mine proposed by Sunrise Coal.  The meeting was hosted by Stand Up To Coal and Prairie Rivers Network.

The evening started off viewing a video of residents asking questions about Sunrise Coal’s proposed mine.

Since the video was created in 2012, with the help of the local community, Stand Up To Coal has achieved several victories:

  • Sunrise Coal originally planned to start mining operations in January, 2014.  In September 2014, they have just applied for their permit.
  • Sunrise Coal’s plans to source production water from the Salt Fork River with the help of the Village of Homer have been stopped.
  • Sunrise Coal is now planning to obtain 500,000gal per day of water from the City of Georgetown, 12miles from the mine site.  There is no clear evidence that Sunrise Coal has obtained the necessary rights of way for a new water delivery pipeline.
  • Landowners have prevented Sunrise Coal from obtaining the necessary surface access for a railroad spur to the mine site.  This will necessitate trucking coal from the mine site, reducing potential production volume.

The focus of the evening was a discussion of the IDNR permit application and an invitation for community members to submit written comments to the IDNR.

Media Coverage:

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Public Information Meeting – September 3

Public notice has been served for Sunrise Coal’s proposed Bulldog mine.

Join Stand Up to Coal and Prairie Rivers Network for an informational meeting to learn more about the consequences of a local coal mine and how you can have your voice heard now in the permit process.

When: Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 7:00pm

Where: Homer Village Hall, 500 E. 2nd St., Homer, IL 61849

 

 

Print off this flyer and post it or share it with a friend:
Public Info Meeting Flyer

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Sunrise Coal Officially Applies for a Mining Permit

There was a notice in the July 31 edition of the Sidell Reporter that Sunrise Coal, LLC (a subsidiary of Hallador Energy, HNRG) has applied for a permit from the Illinois Office of Mines and Minerals for their Bulldog Mine in western Vermilion County.

The final permit application may be viewed on the IDNR website (Click on “Permit” in the line for Sunrise Coal).  This link was updated on our website on 8/14/2014.  The previous version of the permit application can viewed on our website.

One thing to note is that Sunrise Coal has decided to discharge all of their waste water into the Salt Fork River via the Olive Branch.

At this point, the state of Illinois deems the application to be complete and will now begin consideration.  Within the next few weeks there will be a public hearing (formally known as the “informal conference”) where the public may air their concerns.

In the meantime, you may submit written objections to the application at:

Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Office of Mines and Minerals
Land Reclamation Division
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271

 

We will post more information about the public meeting when it is available.

More information about submitting written comments.

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Stand Up To Coal Salt Fork Float

On June 21st, 22 paddlers enjoyed a lazy afternoon floating on the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River, celebrating the beauty and natural history of this local, Midwestern stream,.  After the float, the group rendezvoused with nearly 20 additional people to enjoy a potluck at Homer Lake Forest Preserve.  This event was sponsored by Stand Up To Coal and Prairie Rivers Network in an effort to protect the Salt Fork from a proposed coal mine in Southwest Vermilion County by Sunrise Coal (a subsidiary of Hallador Energy).  Potential surface runoff from snow melt and rainwater compounded by proposed discharge waters through pipes from the processing facility could contaminate the Salt Fork river, impacting natural biological communities as well as recreational and drinking water supplies. 

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Sunrise Coal Faces More Hurdles to Open Mine

Here’s the text of a commentary that appeared in the News-Gazette on June 29.  It was written by Tyler Roche, a water policy specialist with Prairie Rivers Network.  The original article is here.

Stakeholders in Champaign and Vermilion County have worked to inform their neighbors about the impacts of Sunrise Coal’s proposed Bulldog coal mine. Now they are reaching out to update a more distant group: Sunrise Coal’s investors.

The proposed 23,000-acre underground mine would compromise the clean drinking water supplies of surrounding towns, take prime farmland out of production forever, and disrupt communities with health-threatening coal dust and the constant roar of coal trucks.

Residents concerned with the impact of the mine have seen Sunrise Coal’s proposal drive a wedge in the traditionally self-reliant communities across Vermilion and Champaign County. Since 2009, the company has been urging landowners and local governments to surrender the standards they have maintained for their land in order to make way for a mine that would break ground in 2014. But as it stands, the company has yet to even receive their permit to mine.

Local landowners have felt misinformed by Sunrise Coal — that the company has portrayed the mine as a “done deal,” when in fact, much remains to be accomplished. Residents suspect that the same miscommunication may be occurring between Sunrise Coal and investors in their parent company, Colorado-based Hallador Energy Co.

A letter supported by grassroots group Stand Up to Coal and Prairie Rivers Network provides investors with a list of the many tasks remaining before mining can effectively begin:

(1) Mineral Rights. Sunrise Coal has been working to collect mineral leases for years, yet huge swaths of land remain out of reach. Several local residents, who have been caretakers of their land for generations, are standing firm in denying access to the minerals beneath their family farms.

(2) Water. After losing a lengthy and contentious battle in Homer, Sunrise Coal turned to Georgetown to acquire up to 500,000 gallons of treated water per day to wash the coal onsite. The company not only needs to construct and maintain new infrastructure needed to pump the water to the mine site, they also need the easements to build the infrastructure. Sunrise Coal could search for existing rights-of-way, negotiate with dozens of individual landowners, or attempt the act of eminent domain. The last two options will pit Sunrise Coal in another battle against local residents.

(3) Shipping. Rail spurs remain to be built connecting the coal processing facilities to the regional distribution network. While some railroad easements have been negotiated, other landowners with large and necessary property holdings are protecting their assets and will continue to do so.

(4) Permits. Sunrise Coal has yet to be given two necessary permits: a mining permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and a water pollution discharge permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Sunrise Coal first submitted the application for a mining permit in 2012 — it was returned as “incomplete” with far more errors than a typical application. Some errors were complex and some as careless as “inadvertently” marking “no” instead of “yes” on a question of whether operations will be conducted within 100 feet of the right-of-way line of a public road … of which there are three. (See number 39 in completeness review: http://prairierivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Bulldog-Mine-Permit-resubmit_Oct2013.pdf). An application for the water pollution discharge permit has not yet been submitted and may take as long as 18 months to process.

The proposal for a coal mine has proven to be a lengthy process that has done more to divide the community than improve it. It seems common sense that investors and our local decision-makers could find a better project to support. One with local benefits, local jobs, and without a boom-and-bust cycle that leaves our community with collateral damage.

For more information on the investor letter and the proposed mine, visit prairierivers.org/bulldog-mine-investors/ and standuptocoal.org.

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