Legal Settlement Requires IDNR to Reform Coal Mining Permit Process

A legal settlement between the office of the Illinois Attorney General and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will require IDNR to develop and implement measures to improve the transparency and public participation in the coal mine permitting process.  Advocates for the reforms hope that the changes will address concerns that in the past the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals has issued permits without fully considering the environmental impact of mining proposals and without adequate input from local residents and other stakeholders.

While some reforms, such as making permit applications and hearing transcripts available on the internet, may be implemented immediately, others will evolve through an administrative rules process that will provide for public comment.

The new rules will be drafted by IDNR-Office of Mines and Minerals staff, agreed to by the Attorney General’s Office and then sent to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bi-partisan committee made up of twelve legislators from the Illinois General Assembly.  A public comment period will follow.

HCA meets with IDNR Director Marc Miller

Representatives of the Heartland Coalfield Alliance meet with IDNR Director Marc Miller to urge adoption of rules. Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative

What To Expect from These Rules

The proposed rules will include:

  • Providing public notice when mine permit applications are first received by IDNR.
  • Requiring IDNR to conduct a formal environmental review with its Division of Ecosystems and Environment.
  • Scheduling review hearings in a timely fashion.
  • Requiring permit applicants to appear at public hearings and be prepared to answer questions from the public.
  • Requiring IDNR personnel to remain neutral during hearing.
  • Requiring permit fees to be paid at time of permit application rather than upon permit approval.

Watch this site for information on how you can participate.

Click here to read what the Illinois Coal Association has to say about this reform.

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