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:
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.