Cracks in the Road

Subsidence from the Deer Run Longwall Mine has taken its toll on 15th Road near 9th Avenue. The photos below tell the rest of the story.

Do We Have Enough Water for Communities and Coal?

The lack of rain and extreme temperatures has prompted cities of Hillsboro and Litchfield to encourage conservation and caution in water usage.  Hillsboro has even activated an existing city ordinance #1416 that regulates water usage to minimize evaporation and households’ watering distribution.  Offenders may be fined $50 to $500 for a water violation.

A definite warning sign came on July 3 when Glenn Shoals Lake, Hillsboro’s water supply, dropped 2 ½ feet below the normal level and that required Deer Run Mine to stop withdrawal of raw water on July 9, 2012.  (reported in The Hillsboro Journal-News, July 12, 2012)    The purchase agreement between the city and the mine stipulates that the mine must stop withdrawal of water when the lake level drops 2 ½ feet below normal. However, as reported in The Hillsboro Journal-News, August 2, 2012, Glenn Shoal Lake is 4 feet lower than pool level according to Roger Fath, the water superintendent.

Although Deer Run also has a purchase agreement with the city of Litchfield to withdraw raw water from Lake Lou Yaeger, the pipe installation has not yet been completed to transport the water over to Deer Run.  Litchfield’s contract will supply up to 2.5 million gallons per day from Lake Lou Yaeger to Deer Run during March through September provided that the water level does not drop more than 2 feet below the spillway.  Jim Cadwell, the Lake Lou Yaeger superintendent, reported on July 19, 2012 that the lake was dropping ½ inch per day and at that time was 13 inches lower than normal.  The level of water in Lake Lou Yaeger would obviously be much lower if water were removed for the mine.  With or without the drought, the problem for many lake homeowners on Lake Lou Yaeger is that there are several shallow areas and coves (5-inch depth in some areas) where residents cannot use their boats even though they have a contract for lake access.

Lake Lou Yaeger as well as Glenn Shoals has major siltation problems that are not addressed by either city. Both cities assured the residents before the mine was built that money from selling water to Deer Run Mine would be used to manage, maintain, and dredge the lake if needed.  Unfortunately, both cities placed the coal money in the general fund with no specific designation to be used for care of the lake. These two lakes are precious resources that must be cared for because no water translates into destroyed communities.

The real question is, “why community lake water is sold as an industrial commodity?” when it is so desperately needed by citizens.  Water contracts are made and fulfilled without consideration of present or future needs of the community.

Public Hearing–Deer Run Mine Boundary Revision

August 6th at 6:00 pm
VFW Hall
8353 Illinois Route 127
Hillsboro, Illinois 62049

The Department of Natural Resources will be conducting a public hearing regarding a boundary revision to Hillsboro Energy, LLC, Deer Run Mine that proposes to expand operations within 100 feet of the outside right-of-way of 15th Avenue and Schoolhouse Road. The operations are proposed under Incidental Boundary Revision Application No.4 to Permit No. 399 which was submitted by Hillsboro Energy, LLC for the Deer Run Mine.

The public hearing is scheduled for 6:00 PM on August 8, 2012 at the VFW, 8353 Illinois Route 127, Hillsboro, Illinois 62049.

Pastors’ Coalfields Tour of Macoupin and Montgomery Counties

Pastors from a wide area, including Chicago, Central and Southern Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana toured various places in Macoupin and Montgomery County on  April 24-25 under the leadership of Rev. Brian Sauder, Champaign  and Rev. Dr. Claire Butterfield of “Faith in Place” in Chicago. They heard about the moral issues of coal mining and the way it is carried out in Illinois. Pastors heard from Citizens Against Longwall Mining (CALM) members in Montgomery County as well as listened to rural residents of Macoupin County who have been greatly affected by longwall mining. Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network and Heartland Coalfield Alliance members were also represented.

The tour began at Virden, Illinois where the group visited the Memorial built for miners. They then set off on the tour, which included sites of longwall mining damage, waste impoundments and streams that have been affected. Loss of farm neighbors is one of the great regrets of one Macoupin County farmer who said, “The Carlinville-Litchfield road has been rebuilt after seven years of closure, but I don’t drive it anymore because all of my neighbors are gone!”

Another farmer pointed out how the ground has dropped four or five feet from a railroad that runs through the land, which has been built up to its original height since the mining.  Large drainage ditches have been dug, in an effort to drain water, but farmers have to drive a long way around them to get to the fields they farm.  Empty farmhouses are often vandalized and have been burned down.

Jeff Biggers, author, and actor gave a program to the group at Hampton Inn following a dinner at Ruby Tuesdays in Litchfield Wednesday night. Biggers signed copies of his book, “Reckoning at Eagle Creek.” He has written a new book which is coming out in September, titled “State Out of the Union,” which he researched recently in Arizona. Biggers is also a writer for Huffington Post, and author of the book, “The United States of Appalachia.”

A Montgomery County farmer narrated a tour of Deer Run Mine area at Hillsboro on Thursday. The mine, and waste impoundment, with a high hazard dam, have been built within the city limit and within sight of Hillsboro Hospital, the prison, a nursing home, and meeting halls, as well as homes. CALM members told of permanent damage of farmland, water pollution, homes destroyed, IDNR favoring coal corporations over citizens rights, and the dragging out of law cases for years, which are some of the issues involved.