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April 29 through May 1 Southern Illinois Coalfield Tour

Southern Illinois Coalfield Tour
April 29 through May 1, 2011

Click here for a flier.

Interested in learning first-hand about the true cost of coal in Illinois? Join citizen activists, award-winning author Jeff Biggers, and water quality professionals from the Heartland Coalfield Alliance for a two-day tour of southern Illinois’ coalfields. Participants will explore the impacts that the entire coal life cycle has on the lands, waters, health, and quality of life of southern Illinois communities.

We will depart from Carbondale Saturday morning as a group for a driving tour of the nation’s largest new coal-fired power plant and examples of contemporary surface and underground coal mines that feed such a plant. Participants will see a massive coal slurry and coal ash dump, a strip mine, areas subsided from longwall mining, and get the chance to hear directly from local residents who are concerned about the effects mining has on the quality of life and health of citizens, communities and coal miners. We’ll conclude the first day of the tour at a beautiful retreat center high atop bluffs overlooking the Ohio River, with entertaining,topical storytelling and poetry reading.

We’ll begin our Sunday tour taking in the magnificent views from the bluff top at the edge of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area. From there we will drive down into Eagle Creek Valley to witness the devastation that occurs to the land and communities when the land is cleared and stripped away. A spectacular drive over Eagle Mountain and along the northern side of Wildcat Hills will take us out into the Saline River valley where strip mining is occurring a rapid pace.

This tour is intended for concerned citizens who want to learn what they can do to promote a just transition from a coal economy to a sustainable economy in America’s heartland.

  • Wear sturdy shoes for walking on (possibly muddy) dirt roads.
  • Bring water bottles and snacks. We will stop for meals as a group, and participants will cover the cost individually (vegetarian options may be limited). There will be regular restroom stops.
  • For participants who are traveling to Carbondale by train, please email to reserve a spot for pick up and drop off at the Carbondale Amtrak Station.

COST IS $185 – But does lodging or meals.  We will be coordinating a delegation from Chicago.  If you want to travel with us, call Lan at 773.556.3417. We will make room and travel reservations, and coordinate with the Heartland Coalfield Alliance (EJC is a founding member of the Alliance).

Tentative Itinerary

The tour officially begins on April 30th at 9:00 am at the Carbondale Super 8 Motel, 1180 E. Main Street.  EJC and delegates will head to Carbondale on Friday, April 29.

Please note: All rooms at both facilities will have two double or queen-sized beds—if possible, please consider sharing a room with your travel companion(s)

April 29
7:00 pm:  For those participants arriving Friday, will meet for dinner and enjoy topical entertainment. Details provided following your registration; shuttles will be provided from train station and the motel.

April 30
8:45 to 9:00 am:  Meet at the Carbondale Super 8 Motel, 1180 E. Main Street

9:30 am: First stop, view of Knight Hawk Creek Paum strip mine.

10:15 am: Arrive at the Peabody Energy Prairie State power plant and mine. Prairie State is the nation’s largest coal-fired power plant built in the last 20 years. Hear from residents how this $6 billion plant has completely changed the lives of people in Lively Grove, IL and how the plant will impact their future, their health and their quality of life.

11:00 am: Arrive at Peabody’s Gateway Mine in Coulterville. Participants will hear from local residents about water contamination and health problems caused by Gateway’s massive unlined coal slurry and ash impoundments. We will also hear about how Peabody’s planned mine expansion will impact the town and it’s water source.

2:30 pm: Drive past the construction site of Sugar Camp longwall mine in Akin, IL and continue down the road less than 15 miles to Pond Creek longwall mine. At Pond Creek we’ll hear from former residents who were forced to leave their homes and community because of the unbearable conditions living next to a coal mine, see farm fields flooded and roads damaged from longwall mine subsidence.

4:45 pm: Arrive in Galatia where we drive past one of the nation’s most dangerous mines and see where union mines in Illinois were broken.

6:00 pm: Dinner in Elizabethtown on a floating restaurant in the Ohio River.

7:00 pm: Arrive San Damiano Retreat high above the Ohio River. Check into our rooms, relax and get readyfor the rest of the evening.

8:00 pm: Evening entertainment (under the stars—weather permitting!).

May 1
7:00 to 8:00 am:  Optional morning walk and bird watching on the grounds.

7:00 to 8:45 am:  Complimentary breakfast.

9:00 am:  Depart San Damiano Retreat

9:30 am:  Arrive Garden of the Gods bluff top trail to enjoy a magnificent view of the wilderness and hear about the history of the Shawnee National Forest.

10:45 am:  Arrive at the old Eagle Creek strip mine site—stand on the barren land where there once stood thriving communities amid hardwood forests, visit a cemetery that was nearly bulldozed under, and see how current strip mines continue to destroy the land today. From the Eagle Creek Valley we’ll take a scenic drive up and over Eagle Mountain into the Saline Valley where we will see massive former and current strip mine operations.

12:00 noon: Lunch as a group. Tour participants will recap the day and learn more about how they can get involved with ongoing efforts to promote a just economic and environmental future for Illinois’ coalfields.

3:00 pm:  Arrive in Carbondale to return participants to their vehicles or train station.


Call or email Lan Richart:  773.556 3417 or lrichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org.

Delegation to the Heartland

Delegation to America’s Heartland!
Discover the True Cost of Coal

Mach 25 to March 26, 2011

Interested in learning first-hand about the true cost of coal in Illinois? Join Eco-Justice Collaborative and citizen activists and water quality professionals from the Heartland Coalfield Alliance for a day-long tour of central Illinois’ coalfields.

Participants will meet in Springfield in the morning and depart as a group on a driving tour of historic and contemporary coal mining sites. The group will learn about the history of the Illinois’ coal industry and organized labor, visiting the small towns where some of the nation’s deadliest labor battles were fought, as well as the only union coal mine left in Illinois today.

From there, we will explore the impacts that the entire coal life cycle has on the lands, waters, health, and quality of life of central Illinois communities. Participants will see areas subsided from longwall mining, massive coal slurry and coal ash dumps, and get the chance to hear directly from local residents who are concerned about coal’s effects. This tour is intended for concerned Illinois residents who want to learn what they can do to promote a just transition from a coal economy to a sustainable economy in America’s heartland.

Cost from Chicago:  $150.00
Includes travel and overnight lodging
(leave ate Friday afternoon and return late Saturday night)
Does not include meals

Contact Pam or Lan Richart
Eco-Justice Collaborative
Phone:  (773) 556-3417/3418
Email: prichart@ecojusticecollaborative.org

Chicago is running out of time. Join the race for clean air and clean energy!


Chicago Is Running Out of time.
Join the Race for Clean Air and Clean Energy!

Last year on October 24th, hundreds of people joined together outside of Chicago’s Fisk Coal Plant to demand clean air and a fair climate treaty. This year, on October 10th, people from across Chicago will unite for the Chicago Clean Power Day of Action!

Our message this year is clear: Chicago is running out of time. Join the race for clean air and clean energy.

On 10.10.10 we will meet at 9:30am at the “Eyeball” (State Street, between Jackson and VanBuren) to hold banners and educate our neighbors about the devastating effects of Chicago’s coal plants, and how we can clean up our city through the Clean Power Ordinance.

Then, at 12:30 we will rally at the Alivio Medical Center (966 West 21st Street) for the passage of the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance. Jeff Biggers from the Huffington Post and Chicago City Aldermen will make the case for cleaning up Chicago’s dirty coal plants. We are finalizing the speakers list, so please stay tuned!

Join us: http://www.350.org/node/17611

The Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants in Chicago represent the largest sources of dangerous and poisonous air emissions in the region – making them the cause of dozens of premature deaths every year. They also emit thousands of tons of global warming pollution every year! The Clean Power Ordinance introduced in the City Council would require Fisk and Crawford to clean up their act. This year, please join dozens of groups, hundreds of people and city officials to demand clean air and a safe climate!

Join the rally! Be the voice of change! Partner with us on 10.10.10.

Sign up here: http://www.350.org/node/17611

For a clean and peaceful future in Chicago and beyond,

Eco-Justice Collaborative
Founding Partner, Chicago Clean Power Coalition

Surely Our Children Deserve Better!

Surely Our Children Deserve Better!

Two of our nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants are located in the heart of Chicago.  Each year they emit thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants that directly affect the health of its residents.  In the last three years alone, these plants combined have spewed over 45,000 tons of pollution into the air that all Chicagoans breathe, compromising their health.

Those who live closest to these plants are the most affected, resulting in missed school days and work absenteeism.  In fact, in some of our neighborhoods, 1 out of 3 children suffer from asthma and our asthma hospitalization rate is nearly double the national average!  Surely, our children deserve better!

And that’s the point of this Coal PSA, prepared by our friends John Lyons and Jackie Rivet-River of Peace Productions.  This 60-second video underscores the importance of moving Chicago toward a clean energy future for all who live here – but especially for our children.

Chicago Clean Power Campaign

EJC believes that protecting public health and welfare is a fundamental responsibility of government.  Pursuant to its home rule authority, the City of Chicago can adopt regulations for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of its residents.  The City already has adopted an ordinance that regulates air emissions – but does not address those emitted from the two power plants.

That’s why last year Eco-Justice Collaborative worked to create a coalition of environmental and justice groups to launch a campaign for clean power in Chicago.   Its mission focuses on building a clean energy future for Chicago, and its goals are to transition Chicago from its current dependance on fossil fuels to an energy future based on conservation, efficiency and clean renewable energy, recognizing that this will benefit the City economically by creating jobs.  Central to the campaign is the premise that Chicago’s energy future needs to be just and equitable, embracing all people regardless of race, creed, color, ethnicity, income or other social or demographic distinctions.  This pertains to access to energy, as well as jobs training and development.

Chicago Clean Power Ordinance

This campaign currently is focused on passing a Clean Power Ordinance that not only reduces the particulates that cause asthma and other respiratory diseases, but also would reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.  49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore introduced the ordinance to Chicago’s City Council in April. Since that time, the coalition, now at 50 member organizations and growing has helped obtain the support of 13 aldermen.  If adopted, Chicago would be the first major city in the country to regulate both particulates and carbon dioxide.  More importantly, adopting this Ordinance will make a strong statement that the City of Chicago has decided to make the health and safety of its residents a high priority.

If you live in the City of Chicago, please get involved in the campaign!  If you want to learn more, visit the Chicago Clean Power Coalition’s website, www.cleanpowerchicago.org.


Clean Up Toxic Coal Ash – It’s Closer than You Think

Clean Up Toxic Coal Ash – It’s Closer than You Think!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing the first-ever national rules to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. Coal ash is one of the wastes left over from the burning of coal to make electricity.  Why does it need to be regulated?  It contains toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, chromium and cadmium.

In the past, fly ash generally was released into the atmosphere.  Pollution control equipment mandated in recent decades now requires that it be captured prior to release.  Once captured, coal ash is either:

  • Placed in large surface impoundments.  Did you know there are 21 coal ash ponds in Illinois, and 17 of these are 30 years old, making them far more likely to lack pollution safeguards?
  • Sent to landfills or dumped into abandoned mines.
  • Recycled by either reusing it in commercial products or adding it to public lands, farmland or roadbeds.  This is called “beneficial use”.

Currently, there are no national regulations and little to no state regulations for storing this hazardous material. This needs to change. We know coal ash is toxic.  We know it is poisoning families, communities, and our environment.  And we know it has not yet been classified as hazardous. Until that changes, companies can keep dumping it without any safeguards.

Without proper protection, toxic chemicals can leach into groundwater, contaminating drinking water and causing increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects and other illnesses.  As our friends at Sierra Club explain, “Coal ash is toxic, but less strictly controlled than household garbage!”

Two options are being proposed for comment:
  • The first would treat coal as “hazardous waste”, meaning that pollution controls would be mandatory nationwide, and the EPA would be required to enforce them (Subtitle “C”).
  • The second option is favored by the coal industry.  It proposes that individual states take the lead and set guidelines through a weaker, household waste designation.  And this second option leaves compliance up to us through civil lawsuits (Subtitle “D”).

Neither option would regulate ash that is placed in abandoned mine shafts or recycled or reused as “beneficial use”.  This leaves large holes in proposed regulations, with significant potential health and environmental hazards unregulated.


As environmental groups lobby for the more stringent hazardous waste regulation proposed as Subtitle “C”, industries will be expected to put up a strong fight. That’s why we are asking you to give your comments to the US EPA, and give testimony at the hearing if you can.

Date: September 16, 2010
Location:  Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605, 3rd floor
Time: 10am – 9pm and Sierra Club Rally at 5 pm (across the street)

Pre-Register: Reserve a time to speak with the EPA
Read More:  Learn more about each option

OR you can click here to submit written comments.  The comment period for Chicago ends November 19, 2010.  We hope that you support Subtitle “C” and ask the EPA to expand their regulations to cover placing coal ash in abandoned mines and those beneficial “reuses”, such as using coal ash for fill material, roadbed construction and application as a mineral supplement on agricultural fields.  Each of these practices can, and already has, caused significant harm (continue reading… What Also Needs to Be Regulated, below).


The US EPA is NOT proposing to regulate either the dumping of coal ash into abandoned mines or “beneficial use”, or the recycling and reuse of coal ash.   Remember – coal ash contains arsenic, mercury, chromium, selenium, lead and other toxins.

Did You Know…

  • The practice of mine-filling is where coal companies dump coal ash waste into abandoned mines without liners or federal oversight, where it can leach heavy metals when it comes in direct contact with groundwater. Without addressing this issue, the EPA is allowing a loophole that will actually encourage coal companies to dump more coal ash into abandoned mines, as other options are more tightly regulated.
  • Of the more than 136 million tons of coal ash produced in 2008, enough to fill one million railroad cars, about 44%, or 60 million tons, was reused.  The U.S. EPA’s proposed rules are set up to completely exempt all beneficial use coal combustion wastes – including those applied on agricultural lands.
  • Coal ash is often mixed with sewage sludge and other waste and then spread on farm fields (especially in the South). While it may improve the soil’s ability to hold water and increase crop yields (it  contains calcium and magnesium),  it also contains toxic metals — and research from Indiana State University has shown that food crops can take up dangerous levels of arsenic from the ash.
  • Another popular method for disposal of coal ash that is raising concern is its use as a substitute for fill dirt in construction projects.  Uncovered coal ash roads were once common in the Town of Pines, IN. The ash once used as filler material for roads, building projects and dumped in the local landfill, now contaminates the towns’ ground water.
  • Last year, Florida homeowners filed a class action suit against the manufacturers of a Chinese drywall company for using toxic fly ash in materials used to construct their homes.  Residents claimed fumes from drywall causes respiratory health problems, headaches, dry eyes and nosebleeds.

We need EPA to regulate ALL coal ash, including minefilling and “beneficial use” which is being exempted from both proposals.  Ask EPA to regulate coal ash as hazardous wastes under Subtitle C and require stringent monitoring and pollution controls to protect our water. But also, urge EPA to take bold action to protect our health and preserve the integrity of our environment, upon which all life depends.