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.
- 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.
- 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.