We are a group of central Illinois residents who have been fighting the Deer Run Coal Mine in Hillsboro, IL since 2004. We are opposed to coal mining practices such as longwall mining that destroy our fertile farmland, as well as coal ash and coal slurry disposal methods that threaten the health of our communities, lands and waters.
WARNING: This story is not to read by the timid or those prone to nightmares.
Once upon a time there was a clever Werewolf that convinced the leaders of Montgomery County and the City of Hillsboro, Illinois that they needed and deserved a coal mine in their city. Happy thoughts of many jobs and more money in the community were served with smiles and pleasantries. Many fantasies and myths assured the community that Deer Run Mine would only bestow treats with no tricks.
Permit #399 was approved by the protectors of the community — the Illinois Department of Natural Resources/Office of Mines and Minerals (IDNR/OMM) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Some land owners and residents were doubtful of the protections that were promised, but their voices that echoed through the treeless horizon were silenced.
These past echoes, however, collected and reformed to create a force to fight the darkness and myths. This force is called Citizens Against Longwall Mining (CALM) and it continues to brighten the darkness with facts and to enlighten others with hope to do the right thing.
CALM delved into the fantasy of coal mining promises. Can magic really awaken the sunken graves caused by longwall mining? Farming is so much more productive if the land is level and drained without sunken ravines being created.
The promise that water resources would not be destroyed by the evil sinking of land was the easiest myth to bust. All goblins, witches, and vampires know that water seeks its own level, if land sinks, water sinks. Should we even address the myth that streams can be created? Check with Pennsylvania about the folly of how few streams were fixed after being sunk by longwall mining.
CALM is not convinced that surface and ground waters will not be contaminated, since the most toxic and nasty stuff from coal is not monitored. The Clean Water Act is only as good as it is enforced. Even with known National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) violations, little is corrected and the darkness continues.
One very mystical happening was arranged by IDNR/OMM. It strangely converted an in-ground coal slurry disposal area to an above ground high hazard coal slurry impoundment dam in the City of Hillsboro in close proximity to the hospital, nursing home, daycare, and homes. The high hazard dam classification even made the skeletons sit up in fearful fright
Well, fellow goblins, if you think it can’t get any worse, you are WRONG! Permit #424 submitted by Deer Run Mine proposes a second much larger (1/2 by 2 miles) high hazard coal slurry dam impoundment that is even closer to the City of Hillsboro and Schram City. The zombies were astonished that there was no risk assessment. The location of the second impoundment threatens thousands of residents with loss of life and property if the coarse coal embankment ever fails over its lifetime, which is forever, remaining as a threat to the community forever.
The Witches’ Council clued CALM into another huge problem. Within their flight pattern, there is a coal processing plant at Deer Run Mine that spews coal dust that makes them cough. The Witches brooms were no match for the black dust and the effect it had on their lungs. How frightening that the IEPA, that is responsible for protecting air quality and that realizes the need to limit particulate matter (PM) exposure, has failed to require testing or monitoring of PM at the mine site or in the community.
Realizing that everyone, not just the Witches, were at risk, CALM asked the citizens attending Old Settlers Event in Hillsboro in August to sign a petition to ask the Mayor of Hillsboro to facilitate the placement of air monitors at the hospital and nursing home. The petition was well received with a total of 364 signatures that was later presented and well received by the Mayor of Hillsboro.
The community has paid dearly for the mining jobs and the potential financial gain; the tricks far out weigh the treats; we all need clean air, productive farmland, and wonderful water for apple bobbing.
A recent study points out how the state of Illinois is spending more to promote the coal industry than the corporations are paying in taxes to the state. It points up the real need for a coal severance tax on these companies that are selling Illinois coal out of state for huge profits.
Also, citizens are in effect subsidizing these corporations, as much of the damage left behind by these operations is repaired with our tax money also.
Our legislators need to review the true needs and priorities of Illinois, especially with our current budget problems. We cannot afford to supplement industries with grants when they are not providing the numbers of jobs originally promised, while being allowed to ship coal out of state and even out of the country without paying their fair share of taxes to the state of Illinois. Other states charge severance taxes. Why doesn’t Illinois?
Then there are the problems of permanent damage to farms and roads, as well as air pollution and water contamination. A severance tax could provide funds for repairing the damage left behind. These corporations also could be required in their original operating permits to set up funds for this purpose.
The above referenced study showed that out of 17 companies operating coal mines in Illinois in 2010, only three were required to pay corporate income tax. The remaining 14 companies, classified as LLCs, do not pay tax. Only 34 percent of Illinois coal produced in 2010 was produced by companies with corporate income tax liability. The study showed that taxes on coal came to $1,400,860. Meanwhile, the state’s total expenses in promoting the industry also came to $1,400,860.
The authors recommended the following actions: one, a state severance tax on coal; two, a permanent trust fund to help remediate environmental damages due to mining; and three, a detailed analysis of the full costs and benefits of grant programs supporting coal-related projects, with a plan for more oversight.
The outside temperature went up to 90 degrees, but CALM volunteers had free iced-cool water for the public, a fan-cooled tent, and some pretty cool displays at the downtown Hillsboro Old Settler’s street fair and celebration, August 21st and 22nd.
Thanks to a Heartland Coalfield Alliance Grant, new brochures were available for handouts. Information included health concerns from coal and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) phone numbers to call to report air issues. To alert the public before the Old Settler’s event, CALM also had a day-glow lime green information page insert in the Hillsboro newspaper with coal dust air quality concerns and a form to file an environmental quality complaint to the state. The Heartland Coalfield Alliance grant provided funding for these special efforts.
At Old Settler’s, a three-panel display board showed longwall mining impacts on flat farm ground. There was information on homes destroyed and historic farm families uprooted because of longwall mining. Issues regarding harmful health affects of coal were also listed. Aerial photos of the Refuse Disposal Impoundment #1 at the Deer Run Mine and large-format maps and information about the second Refuse Disposal Impoundment currently under consideration were also on display. Several photos showed the proximity of the mine processing plant to the Hillsboro Hospital and downtown. Other photos showed the coal slurry refuse impoundment areas and pointed out nearby neighborhoods in Schram City. The coal slurry impoundments are all High Hazard Dams, meaning that loss of life and or property are possible if a breach occurred.
Signs with “Water Is Life ! CALM Loves Clean Water, Too !” and other posters were around the tent. CALM had a Petition to the Mayor of Hillsboro to request an air monitor at the Hillsboro Hospital and one at the near-by nursing home, which gained a lot of interest and a very good response. Plans will be made in the next weeks to present the petition to the Mayor.
Special Thanks go to lead CALM volunteer in organizing the event, Mary Ellen DeClue. Her energy and enthusiasm kept everyone going. Many volunteers made this effort possible, with providing tables, chairs, and other support. In spite of the 10 p.m. finish on a very hot August 22nd, seven dedicated sets of volunteer hands made quick work of packing things up. Several CALM members stopped by the booth during the days to provide fans and support. Chocolate chip cookies were provided by Chair Cathy Edmiston, who helped staff the display and handed out water bottles. Cathy and volunteers handed out cold water to over 200 people.
Illinois lost a loyal farmer, who spoke out against the loss of water, and pollution of farms caused by coal mines. Charles Goodall, of Sidell, Vermilion County, a founder of Stand Up to Coal, passed away July 4 at age 68 in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago of complications from multiple myeloma. He is well known in environmental circles, as well as agricultural organizations.
Memorial services will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 28, 2013 at the Sidell Methodist Church, 202 Chicago St., Sidell, Illinois.
A fifth generation farmer, he grew up on the family farm outside Sidell with sisters, Carol, Marjory and twin, Catherine. He was a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in agricultural economics. He spent two years in Venezuela as a Peace Corps volunteer, and graduated from Washington University School of Law, St. Louis. He greatly valued community, historical preservation, the natural world and conservation and spent time and effort on these causes.
Charles is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughters Catherine (Uwe) Goodall-Heising and Andrea (Milyon) Trulove, and granddaughter Norah, three sisters, Carol Wock, Marjory (Paul) Queen, and Catherine (Albert) Allen, and many relatives and friends.
He invited members of CALM to come to Vermilion County to serve on panels for Stand Up to Coal programs. He also came to Montgomery and Macoupin Counties on a sponsored tour of mines in Carlinville and Hillsboro. He will long be remembered as a leader with a strong sense of justice, who fought for the fair treatment of rural citizens in our democracy.
(Catherine Edmiston, President, Citizens Against Longwall Mining)
To describe the entirety of a man’s life cannot be done with mere words, but Charles Goodall’s life long focus in protecting our natural world, farmland, and communities from destruction is exemplary of his character. Charles founded Stand Up to Coal to fight a proposed coal mine in Champaign and Vermilion Counties by Sunrise Coal LLC. As a fifth-generation farmer, he valued the land and water resources and dedicated his efforts to preserve them. As an avid outdoorsman, he appreciated clean air and the beauty of nature as essential elements in preserving the community’s quality of life.
Charles was influential in alerting his community about the reality of coal mining and why his fellow citizens should not believe the sales pitch of Sunrise Coal. He realized the promise of jobs and profits to the community by the mine proponents was misleading while the detrimental effects to the environment were not discussed. Perhaps the most misleading statements by mine proponents were that all state and federal mine laws would be applied and therefore these laws would protect the environment. Charles with other Stand Up to Coal members knew this contention was not realistic.
The leadership of Charles in the Stand Up to Coal organization along with his active board membership of Prairie Rivers Network and participation in Heartland Coalfield Alliance helped to bring about a collective change in attitudes and established an extensive group of mine opponents. They did what they should have done to protect their community. They united and stood up to coal and the myths that the coal industry promotes to get entrenched into their neighborhoods.
The coal industry’s influence permeated well beyond the placement of coal mining into communities. Charles worked toward removal of the coal industry’s curriculum that was distributed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to any teacher that requested the coal program. He objected to the state promoting coal propaganda as valid information to Illinois youth. He considered education to be about how to develop a clean energy future, not how to enhance fossil fuel profits.
He protected and fought for what was important to him and his family and inspired others to do likewise. Charles led with his heart and mind to better his community, state and country. His legacy is his actions. We all have benefited.