Big coal owns Illinois
Jeff Biggers paints an UGLY PICTURE of the Prairie State:
Whether she runs for governor or not, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan would need nine lives to bring the state’s notoriously broken regulatory system into compliance with the nation’s most reckless coal industry.
With state coal production soaring against national trends, Illinois cemented its reputation as the worst rogue state for coal operations last Friday, when the rubber-stamping operations of the state’s EPA issued a pollutant discharge permit to a company already cited by the state for over 600 toxic discharge violations at its central Illinois non-union strip mine.
Translation: Imagine the Department of Motor Vehicles renewing the driver’s license of a toxic-laden truck driver with 600 DUI’s.
Welcome to Illinois–where the brand new Prairie State coal-fired plant is facing “potential fraud” investigations for rocket increases in electricity rates; where the second highest number of contaminated coal ash dump sites in the country abound; where a mind-boggling high hazard coal slurry dam continues to rise in sight of a farm town’s nursing home and day care center; where Illinois taxpayers underwrite a huge slush fund for coal marketing, including a shameless “coal education curriculum” for students that blatantly covers up the facts on the state’s deadly coal industry; where even the liberal US Sen. Dick Durbin fights for the pork of “clean coal” as the main utility company backs out of the FutureGen boondoggle.
Even with black lung disease for coal miners spiking, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was also found in violation of state law’s for failing to hire enough mine safety inspectors.
It’s so pathetic in Illinois that even bankrupt energy companies are granted two-year extentensions on their deadly emissions clean up requirements.
It’s so pathetic in Illinois that there’s not even a coal severance tax, or collection of sales tax for out-of-state transactions–a huge detail when record coal exports now drive the market.
It’s so pathetic in Illinois that we don’t even celebrate Coal Miners Day – just the coal barons.
And last Friday’s notice by the Illinois EPA, sent in an email after working hours, on the granting of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for Springfield Coal’s strip mine operation near the township of Industry might be the most unabashed denial of facts and community input in recent memory.