PEORIA, IL -- Check out this news release-- and the activism the group is organizing:
PEORIA, IL -- Check out this news release-- and the activism the group is organizing:
Here's a news release:
Citizens Win Eight-Year Battle to Stop Coal Strip Mine: Local Water Resources Saved Upstream of Public Water Supply Lake
IDNR Stream Protection Errors Exposed
CANTON, Il. – The court case contesting the North Canton coal strip mine permit was officially ended January 16th, winning an eight-year battle by citizens of Fulton County to protect Canton Lake and its watershed that supplies drinking water to over 20,000 residents.
Capital Resources Development Company LLC, an affiliate of Springfield Coal Company LLC, asked to terminate its Permit No. 385 before citizens reached a full court hearing where they had challenged the mine and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) regarding errors in the permit approval.
“For the residents of Canton and Orion townships this is wonderful news for our water supply and for our land,” said Brenda Dilts, Leader of the Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues, Canton Lake and Its Watershed (CACEI). “We did not want an arm of Springfield Coal, the company that had racked up over 600 water permit violations at the Industry Mine, discharging polluted water into our public water supply lake. The strip mine would destroy much of the natural drainage and be harmful to the environment, the watershed and to the people in the community."
In February 2013, Sierra Club and members of CACEI won a state administrative level permit appeal in part and saved a major stream corridor proposed for strip mining about one mile upstream of Canton Lake. Sierra Club and a member of CACEI then filed in Fulton County Circuit Court in an effort to protect the five other streams in the strip mine permit. Most of the streams feed into the main tributary of Canton Lake, a public drinking water supply source.
During the permit challenge brought by the citizens, IDNR admitted on the witness stand, and the Department’s Hearing Officer found, that IDNR had an unwritten policy to ignore a part of its own regulatory definition of “intermittent stream,” thereby circumventing greater stream protections in the permit approval process.
"My farm and home would have been directly across from this mine if it had proceeded," said Joe Cooper, member of CACEI. "I am so grateful to CACEI, Sierra Club, and all the local Canton people who helped raise alarms about how this could ruin our lake watershed. The state mine permit should never have been approved for this mine. The state mining agency simply was not doing its job to enforce the laws on the books. We proved that.”
“Planning a coal strip mine in the watershed that feeds the drinking water lake that supplies water to over half the population of Fulton County was never a good idea," said Dr. Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Advocate for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. "It took years of community pressure and legal action for this coal company to realize that. We’re looking to the IDNR to make the institutional changes necessary to protect the integrity of vital water resources like Canton Lake in its permitting decisions, in line with the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act."
Citizens raised funds to hire an attorney and an expert hydro-geologist through bake sales, garage sales, and a wide range of fund-raisers over the years. Springfield Coal Company owns other mines and also makes revenue back-hauling coal ash from power plants for dumping at old mines.
“The significance of Springfield Coal Company’s permit withdrawal cannot be overstated. This coal company - with sites all over the state and all kinds of coal reserves - was defeated by the dedication, caring and hard work of local citizens,“ said Joyce Blumenshine, Heart of Illinois Group Sierra Club Chair.
”Our attorney, David Wentworth, with the Hasselberg Grebe Snodgrass Urban Wentworth firm in Peoria, had a tremendous case to stop this mine. We fought hard in the community and in court to protect the lake and streams. The fact the mine decided to give up on the eve of our court hearing says a lot.”
PEORIA, IL -- Here's a thoughtful op-ed piece from Amy Scott of Bradley University:
Social movement activism has long been a cornerstone of the great American experiment in democracy. In the Sixties and Seventies, we witnessed movements for civil rights, women’s rights, and a push for more a more peaceful world. There were also widespread citizen efforts to protect our skies, streams, and rivers from toxic industrial pollutants.
Swayed by citizen pressure, a bipartisan administration passed some of the nation’s strongest environmental laws. The Clean Air Act (1970) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (1972), remain two of the most crucial protections for the safety of our air and water.
Unfortunately, industrial pollution continues to degrade our environment and threaten the health of our communities. Just last year, parts of Peoria and Tazewell counties were declared “non-attainment” zones because they failed to meet the EPA’s standards for sulfur dioxide pollution, a severe respiratory irritant. The EPA cited the ED Edwards plant in Bartonville, which is coal-fired, as a major contributor to this pollution.
Despite lawsuits and non-attainment status, in 2013, the Illinois Pollution Control board granted Dynegy, the Houston-based owners, a “variance” from state environmental air regulations. Effectively, our state’s environmental protection agencies have given Dynegy a license to continue polluting at unacceptable levels. As stewards of Central Illinois, we have the responsibility to envision a future in which our energy doesn’t pollute our air, destroy our source of water, or heat our planet to the point of irreversible damage.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposes to reduce carbon emissions nationally, and every state will decide how to implement the EPA’s plan later this year. Already, Illinois has the fourth-highest installed wind capacity in the nation; over 91 communities across Illinois are powered by renewable energy; and, there are nearly 100,000 clean energy jobs in our state. Central Illinois must build on these gains.
We need citizen involvement to ensure that our leaders promote energy efficiency and prioritize investments in renewables like wind and solar. A local community group is hosting a public forum outlining our options for renewable energy in Illinois at Bradley University on Monday, November 24th at 7:00 PM at the Marty Theater.
In 1962, environmentalist Rachel Carson asked a question that still resonates: “Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” If your answer is, “Not me; not my loved ones; not my neighbors,” maybe it’s time to get involved.
Amy L. Scott
Associate Professor of History
Amy L. Scott is an Associate Professor of History at Bradley University, where she teaches courses on U.S. Social Movements, Urban History, and the History of the American West. She is the co-editor of, City Dreams, Country Schemes: Community and Identity in the American West (University of Nevada Press, 2011), as well as numerous other articles on the history of social movements and American cities.
PEORIA, IL -- Two dozen environmental activists gathered for a Nov. 12 news conference to report new and ominous information on the effects of air pollution in the Peoria area.
Their goal: ultimately to pressure the Edwards coal fired power plant near Bartonville to install pollution control equipment, or to shut down.
"The health impact of Edwards is worse than we thought," said Tracy Fox, one of three speakers at the event.
They cited figures showing there are 29 deaths yearly from air pollution. There were 54 bad air days in 2012, and 490 asthma attacks yearly in the area.
A sign held by a member of the group stated: "Citizens litering, $50 fine. Dynergy: free." Dynergy owns the Edwards plant.
photo courtesy of Kady McFadden
A nurse, Teresa Smith, said "hundreds are struggling to breathe because this polluter uses this community as a dumping ground.We need renewable energy."
Fox said the group has been working with the Peoria City/County Health Department" which contacted Dynergy, the owner of the Edwards plant, on its air and water pollution and coal ash landfill.
"It's isolated financially," she said, meaning the Edwards plant lacks access to Dynergy's money. That makes pollution control equipment less likely.
The third speaker, Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health with the Respiratory Health Association, said the coal plant pollution also is linked to global warming and climate change.
Hot weather is moving north, and could produce temperatures of 115F in Chicago, he said.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here's the news release:
PEORIA, Ill. – Today, respiratory health experts and local residents will outline new revelations from a Clean Air Task Force report on public health that demonstrates how Peoria’s air pollution problem is far worse than it previously reported. Dynegy’s E.D. Edwards coal plant in Bartonville is one of the top polluters in the area, and other regional coal-fired power plants are contributing to dangerous levels of smog pollution in the Peoria area.
The report first estimated the annual health impacts of the Edwards coal plant at 7 premature deaths, 10 heart attacks and 110 asthma incidents. When the Clean Air Task Force ran its models with the Edwards coal plant’s actual 2012 emissions data instead of EPA predictions, the group found that pollution from the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant in fact contributes to 29 premature deaths, 45 heart attacks and 490 asthma incidents each year.
“Seeing this toll to public health in the Peoria area due to pollution from coal plants sets off alarms for health experts,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health with Respiratory Health Association. “We need public health protections that shield children, seniors and those living with lung disease from the effects of breathing ozone smog-forming power plant exhaust.”
On December 1st, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will issue new proposed standards on smog pollution. The current smog pollution standard is 75 parts per billion (ppb), but many health experts, epidemiologists and medical organizations like Respiratory Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and many others have endorsed a standard of 60 ppb to safeguard public health properly. If the smog standard was set to 60 ppb as recommended by health experts, Peoria would have been alerted to 54 unhealthy air days in 2012, 17 in 2013 and 11 so far in 2014, all related to smog alone.
Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, causes premature death, asthma attacks, aggravates other lung diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, and may cause permanent lung damage and harm the central nervous system. Coal-fired power plants - like those operated across the state of Illinois by Dynegy and NRG Energy- are some of the largest contributors to smog. Smog is formed from the pollution emitted from these coal plants as it interacts with sunlight.
“As a community that has fought for cleaner air for years, it is heartbreaking to see that our problem with air pollution is actually worse than we thought,” said Tracy Fox with Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste. “We’ve got a tremendous opportunity to cut smog pollution in our community. Big polluters like Dynegy are going to fight these vital health protections tooth and nail, which is why it’s crucial for us to stand up for a strong smog standard.”
“As a nurse, an asthmatic and a lifelong Peoria resident, I’ve experienced the daily impacts of pollution from local coal plants,” said Teresa Smith, RN, Peoria resident. “We face above-average rates of asthma here in Peoria, so it is urgent that we cut smog pollution in order to protect statewide public health.”
BLOOMINGTON, IL -- From a news release:
Grassroots Protest Permit Request for Oil Drilling in McLean County
Holding signs saying “Not one permit,” about 100 members and friends of Illinois People’s Action and concerned McLean County residents turned out for a McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting last night protesting Minard Run Oil company. Minard is seeking a Special Use Permit allowing the company to drill for oil in McLean County. After waiting patiently for over 2 hours to provide testimony, while Minard representatives droned on and on, often about irrelevant topics, a handful of audience members were allowed to ask questions before they were informed the hearing would be continued on Tuesday, October 21 at 7 PM.
During the brief question and answer time, Minard Officials acknowledged that they would flare gas at the sight, that they would run operations 24/7, 7 days a week, that the figures they provided to the Zoning board on how many trucks would travel on McLean County roads were inaccurate and that they weren’t aware that 6% of well casings fail immediately and 60% over time. The never mentioned once that they would, in all likelihood, be bringing up high levels of radium, which is common in Illinois shale, or the fact that they were found by the Pennsylvania EPA of dumping radioactive waste into a PA stream.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is tasked to decide what is in the best interest of the county and in making a recommendation to the larger County Board on whether the Special Use Permit for oil drilling should be given. IPA posits that the state of Illinois is working off an old archaic law that will not protect county residents from a number of dangers including radioactivity, water pollution, air pollution, and loss of property value. The organization is encouraging citizens to attend the October 21st meeting and testify.
It is IPA’s position that fossil fuel extraction is bad for both the environment and a just economy. We support sustainable and renewable sources of energy development such as wind farms and solar gardens. Illinois People’s Action is a faith and community based organization with chapters in Bloomington/Normal, Springfield, Decatur, Peoria and Southern Illinois. Its mission is to work on the causes of social, economic, and environmental justice issues. It is a member of National People’s Action. -30-
PEORIA, IL -- From a news release:
New Report Outlines Risk and Costs that Dynegy’s Coal-fired power Plants Place on Illinois Communities
Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network Highlight Path for Communities to Transition Away from Risky Coal
PEORIA - Today, the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance (CIHCA), Prairie Rivers Network and the Sierra Club released a report highlighting the risk posed by Dynegy's coal-fired power plants on communities across Illinois.
The report is the first comprehensive collection of Dynegy’s environmental and public health impact state-wide. The report chronicles Dynegy's history of risky behavior, the health costs associated with pollution from Dynegy’s aging coal plants, cleanup risks and costs that towns could face if a coal ash disaster occurs at a Dynegy coal ash pit and Dynegy’s troubled history with labor and town relations.
The report goes on to outline the importance of building responsible transition plans for Illinois communities that have been saddled with decades of coal pollution and are ready to build local clean energy economies.
“This report clearly demonstrates that Dynegy has shifted the burden of its heavily polluting business to the communities surrounding its plants, placing the health costs of pollution, and the potentially devastating costs of coal ash disaster squarely on those living nearby.” said Kady McFadden, Organizing Representative with the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign in Illinois.
“Illinois has no time to waste demanding a transition away from coal, and requiring a smart transition plan in communities that have been calling for clean energy and cleaner air for years.”
The report implicates Dynegy in devastating past, present, and future pollution impacts. The company is responsible for the continuing coal ash damage at the Vermillion plant along the Vermillion River.
The company’s ED Edwards plant is implicated in causing federally designated unsafe air quality in Peoria, and several additional plants across the state threaten local air quality. Many plants also dump coal ash directly into the Illinois River, putting arsenic, mercury, and lead directly into one of Illinois’ most important drinking water and recreational sources. The report contains maps demonstrating the extent of Dyengy’s air and water pollution state-wide.
“I want to make my community a safe place for my children to grow up and thrive, and dangerous pollution from Dynegy’s coal plant takes that power away from me as a parent,” said Robin Garlish, a mother from Pekin who lives near Dynegy’s E.D. Edwards coal plant and member of the CIHCA.
“This report portrays the terrifying percentage of our state that is blanketed by pollution from Dynegy’s coal plants. It is time to build a plan to move away from dangerous coal pollution in Illinois, and we’re going to push Dynegy to build that plan with all community stakeholders present.”
The report also reveals the long-known and pervasive coal ash problems at Dynegy’s coal plants. The Illinois River is hit hard by Dynegy’s Duck Creek, E.D. Edwards, Havana, and Hennepin plants, which all discharge polluted water to the river at a rate of more than 1,043 million gallons daily. Dynegy’s history with coal ash contamination at its retired Vermillion coal plant in central Illinois raises a red flag for other communities where Dynegy is dumping coal ash into aging coal ash pits.
“So many of Dynegy’s coal ash pits are already leaking and are disaster areas waiting to happen,” said Carrie Otto, Organizer with Prairie Rivers Network. “Protecting clean water is vital, and transitioning away from coal is the simplest way we can avoid producing the dangerous waste that Dynegy dumps near our rivers.”
Beyond highlighting risks, the report outlines a three step checklist for local decision makers to protect their communities from Dynegy’s dangerous track record: advocate for public health and a healthy environment, support clean energy, and protect the community workforce.
Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign
PEORIA, IL - From a news release:
PEORIA, Ill. – State senator Dave Koehler and State Representative Jehan Gordon joined the Sierra Club, the Blue Green Alliance, Citizen’s Utility Board and Clean Energy Trust to host an April 16 forum at the Peoria Labor Temple highlighting clean energy policies and discussing opportunities to bring clean energy projects and jobs to Central Illinois. The forum also focused on pending legislation that could bolster Illinois’ growing clean energy economy.
“Clean energy is already driving job growth in Central Illinois,” said Senator Dave Koehler. “This forum presented an opportunity for our entire community to come together and brainstorm ways to make our clean energy economy even stronger.”
Since it passed in 2007, Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard has set clean energy goals for the state and created more than 20,000 jobs, cut wholesale power prices by $177 million dollars per year, and curbed more than 5 million tons of air pollution. State lawmakers are currently discussing a pending bill that would make important adjustments to the Renewable Portfolio Standard and better incentivize clean energy projects around the state.
“Wind and solar manufacturing, installation and maintenance represent strong, family-sustaining jobs for Central Illinois,” said Patrick Whitty, Director of Programs, Clean Energy Trust. “We’re only just beginning to unlock the potential of these industries. Today’s forum allowed many different groups to come together around advancing this economic opportunity for our communities.”
“Clean energy is a smart investment for Illinois,” said Bryan McDaniel from Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB). ”Not only has Illinois’ smart clean energy leadership helped reduce pollution, but it has also saved Illinois families a lot of money.”
“When we grow our renewable energy resources, it means cleaner air and better health for the state of Illinois,” said Jack Darin, Director, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter. “Clean energy is a win-win for our economy and our environment.”
“Clean energy job potential grows every day,” said Tom Conway with BlueGreen Alliance. “Many jobs related to clean energy will be in modernizing the electrical grid to reduce the amount of energy lost throughout the system and make it easier for people to install rooftop solar and move wind energy to urban areas.”
Today’s clean energy forum followed a similar forum hosted April 15 in Waukegan by State Senator Terry Link and State Representative Rita Mayfield. - 30 -
PEORIA, IL -- The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance had a good year, thought it lost a battle, at least for now.
From a news release:
From a news release:
Illinois One Step Closer to Improved Regulations For Factory Farms
A 45-day public comment period opens on new CAFO rules to protect environment and human health:
Regulations set up first-ever registration of State’s polluting factory farms
SPRINGFIELD, IL––DECEMBER 2, 2013 ––In a significant action affecting Illinois’ environmental and community health, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (“Board”) has issued a notice in today’s Illinois Register on proposed new regulations for one of the state’s largest polluters – factory farms, also known concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
The State of Illinois has been at risk of losing its authority to administer the Clean Water Act for failure to adequately regulate CAFOs. Last year the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) proposed a set of draft regulations to the Board due in part to pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make necessary changes to existing CAFO rules.
According to Dr. Kendall Thu of Northern Illinois University, a leading expert on the environmental and community impacts of CAFOs, Illinois water quality reports confirm that animal feeding operations are one of the top ten contributors of pollution in the state -- a statistic that is likely underestimate since not all waterways are assessed and all CAFOs have not been accounted for. CAFO-related waste spills and fish kills are a common occurrence in Illinois. Since 2000, IEPA reports document 34 fish kills attributed to livestock waste releases in the state.
“We are moving closer each day to a hard-fought and overdue win for the environment and public health in Illinois,” said Danielle Diamond, Executive Director of Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and an attorney for the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water. “For years the state has had its opportunity to handle the CAFO pollution problem openly and responsibly, but chose to back factory farms over the public interest. Today signals a change in that behavior.”
Last year, community and environmental stakeholders, including members of the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water (ICCAW), targeted a series of hearings across the state to call for tougher pollution controls for CAFOs. Among the key improvements called for was a registration program for all unpermitted large factory farm operations.
The proposed accounting system would enable regulators to track where industrial-scale livestock operations are located in Illinois and determine their roles and cleanup responsibilities in hazardous and illegal pollution events.
“Although the Illinois EPA has been charged with the responsibility to regulate CAFOs since the late 1970’s, to date the agency still does not have an accurate accounting of the hundreds of factory farms in
the state or even know the actual whereabouts of many,” said Diamond. “How can an agency regulate polluters if it doesn’t even know where they are?”
Concerns over the adequacy of the IEPA-proposed regulations led citizens and environmental groups to propose their own set of improved draft regulations to the Board, as did livestock industry groups who pushed for lesser regulations. Included among the appealed-for improvements was a requirement that all Illinois CAFOs be held to the same pollution and waste management standards, regardless of their permit status.
In a disappointing move, the Board omitted this key rule change, following the IEPA’s milder recommendation to only strengthen pollution control requirements for permitted facilities. Since very few CAFOs in Illinois are currently required to have permits, the vast majority of factory farms will be held to a lesser standard under the new rules.
“We welcome the regulation changes that the Pollution Control Board has recommended, but they need to seriously rethink not holding all factory farms to the same standards,” said Karen Hudson, a farmer and co-founder of ICCAW. “Scientists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health confirm that people living near factory farms and areas where manure is disposed run a higher risk of dangerous and potentially life-threatening methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Nothing less than our community health is on the line.”
The Board has initiated a 45-day public comment period to gather additional information and public comment before finalizing the regulations. Those wanting to participate can contact ICCAW or go the Board’s website to view comments and order for instructions on how to submit comments at IPBC - In the Matter of: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
### About Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP):
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project provides free, professional assistance to communities working to protect themselves from factory farms and their impact on local communities and populations, and to those who are trying to reclaim agriculture by producing and marketing sustainable agricultural goods.More information can be found at www.sraproject.org.
About Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW): Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water, a state-wide coalition of family farmers and community groups advocating for sound policies and practices that protect the environment, human health, and rural quality of life from the impacts of large-scale, industrialized livestock production facilities in Illinois. For more information about ICCAW, please go to www.iccaw.org -30-
PEORIA, IL -- Just when you thought environmental problems couldn't get any worse, now this: The US Coast Guard proposes allowing barge operators to transport radioactive water on the nation's waterways!
See the story here. There's a link where you can comment, but doing that is incredibly complicated. (No wonder the Affordable Care Act website is screwed up. So is this one.) Instead we need an internet petition, and here it is.)
Want to drink radioactive water? The Illinois River supplies drinking water to cities along its banks, including Peoria and Pekin.
This is simply unbelievable!
-- Elaine Hopkins