Opponents of coal mine gather tonight in Homer

Opponents of coal mine gather tonight in Homer

HOMER — Opponents of a proposed underground coal mine southeast of Homer are holding an informational meeting Wednesday night (Sept. 3) to discuss concerns with Sunrise Coal's development plans and the state's mine permitting process.

More than two years ago, Sunrise Coal based in Terre Haute, Ind., applied to the state for an underground mining permit for its proposed Bulldog Mine with plans to lease mining rights in a large area mostly in western Vermilion County — where the mine's surface operation would be — but partly in Champaign County, too.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has finally deemed Sunrise Coal's permit application complete, meaning it has all the required information to decide whether to grant the company a mining permit.

By state law, the public now has the opportunity to submit comments regarding the mine application and can also request a public hearing prior to the state's decision.

Sue Smith, a landowner in the Homer area, was involved in the effort to keep Sunrise from approving a lease with the village of Homer to provide the proposed mine with a water source. Sunrise instead reached an agreement with Georgetown in southern Vermilion County to lease water from that municipality.

Smith said she's still involved in the grassroots effort opposing development of the mine, and will attend tonight's meeting at 7 p.m. at Homer village hall, 500 E. Second St., Homer.

She said the meeting is being held to invite members of the public to hear a brief review of concerns about the proposed mine, a description of the state's mine permitting process and various ways they can get involved. Smith said organizers will also answer any questions.

Smith said they will be encouraging people to write letters to the state now, so IDNR officials will hear from public that they do want a public hearing on the issue.

While Sunrise officials maintain that the mine will be highly regulated by the state and bring new development and new, solid-paying jobs to the area, opponents of the mine argue, among other environmental concerns, that runoff and discharge from a mine could threaten above- and below-ground water sources, such as the nearby Salt Fork River.

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