On Monday evening, the Village of Georgetown trustees voted unanimously in favor of a contract to provide 300,000-500,000 gallons of water per day to Sunrise Coal (Hallador Energy) for washing coal at their proposed Bulldog Mine. Georgetown gets its water from two wells near Cayuga, IN.
On one hand, this surprise raises serious concerns as Sunrise Coal moves one step closer to having the necessary assets to complete their mining permit.
On the other hand, this is a “win” for the Salt Fork River because this move removes the threat of Sunrise Coal taking water from the Salt Fork. It seems that the pressure applied by Stand Up To Coal to Champaign County officials was deemed to be more than Sunrise wanted to fight. They took the more expensive and logistically difficult option of buying water from Georgetown and piping it to their surface facility near Homer.
Now is the time to contact Vermilion County Board representatives and Georgetown trustees and citizens. They should be encouraged to continue opposing Sunrise Coal and their efforts to bring a new mine to Vermilion County. While Vermilion County does not have zoning laws that can be used to outright stop the mine, there are several statutes that empower the Vermilion County Board to enforce water and air pollution.
Per Chapter 55 of our Illinois Compiled Statues which contains the provisions relating to our county boards, the county board appears to have abilities to address the following threats from underground coal mining and surface coal processing activities:
– to appropriate funds from the county treasury and loan such funds to a county water commission (under the Water Commission Act
– to control and regulate the disposal of sewage, refuse, and any other wastes from any premises within the borders of the county, except with respect to waste management in a municipality that has severed itself from county jurisdiction under Section 5‑15006, and to this end may adopt suitable ordinances.
– to prevent pollution of any stream or any other body of water within the county and to cause any and all parties, persons, firms and corporations to cease any and all pollution of any such streams or body of water within such county; provided that the authority of the Pollution Control Board of the State of Illinois shall not be superseded.
– The county board of any county which is served by a community water supply well may perform a groundwater protection needs assessment, and may by ordinance adopt a minimum or maximum setback zone around a wellhead pursuant to Sections 14.2, 14.3, 14.4 and 17.1 of the Environmental Protection Act.
– to appropriate and expend funds from the county treasury for economic development purposes, including the making of grants to any other governmental entity or commercial enterprise deemed necessary or desirable for the promotion of economic development in the county.
Commercial-News: June 17