Leave the Campsite Cleaner than You Found It!
This interview is with Rev. Craig B. Mousin, an Adjunct Faculty member of the DePaul University College of Law and the Grace School of Applied Diplomacy. Craig's podcasts typically focus on immigration. But, this time, he decided to celebrate an environmental victory in Illinois and raise some questions about how each one of us views - and relates to - our environment.
Craig is one of Eco-Justice Collaborative's Board members, and has been following EJC's grassroots campaign to remove the toxic ash from the floodplain of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion in east-central Illinois. This is Illinois' only National Scenic River, and Eco-Justice Collaborative, along with partners Prairie Rivers Network and EarthJustice have been working together to ensure its removal.
A Success Story
This podcast celebrates the decision by Dynegy Midwest Generation to enter into a settlement agreement with the State of Illinois to remove 3.3 million cubic yards of coal ash from its current location, and clean up the site. Ash has been dumped in the floodplain of this river since the mid-1950's, when the Vermilion Power Station was constructed along the west bank of the river. The Middle Fork, offers one of the most diverse habitats for animals and plants in Illinois, but has been threatened, for decades, by erosion of the river bank near the coal ash pits and the coal ash pollution seeping from the unlined its. The coal ash will now be removed because of the successful collaboration among these groups and grassroots organizing that has continued to pressure agencies who had authority to ensure its safe removal.
Coal ash pollutants are seeping through the eroded riverbanks of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. EJC. 2018.
To Learn More
The story of the ash removal goes back to 2011, when the Illinois EPA issued its first Notice of Violation to Dynegy for exceeding groundwater standards. Although it is now clear that Dynegy will "move its ash", it is equally clear that this process is going to take some time, and that protections for the river and those who work on the site will need to be put into place. It is not yet known where the ash will be moved, or whether some of it will be recycled.
Pursuant to the agreement, Dynegy will be hosting its first public meeting to present its plans and proposals on or before December 17 of this year. Watch these websites for more information as it becomes available. And, if you click these links, you will find historical information about the river, the threat, and the proposal to remove the ash. This includes photos of erosion and coal ash pollutant seepage into the river.
Eco-Justice Collaborative - Dynegy Agreement
Prairie Rivers Network-Middle Fork
EarthJustice - Coal Ash Program
Also of Interest ...
IPCC Report - The United Nations has established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess the science related to climate change. On August 6, 2021, it issued its most recent report including the findings mentioned in the beginning of the podcast. You can find this report at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-i/
Water Protecters - For an example of a current lawful assembly engaged in protecting water against an oil pipeline, all are invited to join the Treaty People Walk for Water. Starting on August 7, water protectors are walking from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Minnesota State Capitol Building by August 25. For more information, see: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16nD-olTOZndvdIi8KIRAW0i-tYAXWUcRfa9nSHir0fI/edit