MAC: Mines and Communities

Protestors ready to battle coal mine

Published by MAC on 2007-11-05

Protestors ready to battle coal mine

5th November 2007

by Jacqueline Koch, Journal Star Peoria

When Teresa Grigsby looks out her front window, she wants to see the natural beauty that is Banner Township.

She doesn't want to see stockpiles of coal.

Grigsby hopes to help stop the creation of a proposed strip mine directly across the street from her residence, where she's lived for 31 years.

"We just do everything we can," she said. "We don't give up."

Grigsby was one of nearly 30 people, including members of the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club, who gathered at Liberty Park on the Peoria riverfront on Sunday afternoon to voice concerns about the 643-acre tract of land near Banner that could be mined.

Holding signs reading "Mine blasting for Banner? No way," and "What about our water? Well, streams and aquifers," people said they objected to the mine because of its affect on wetlands and wildlife.

About two weeks ago, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources decided to grant a permit to Capital Resources Development Co. to mine the land. The company still must obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers before mining commences.

Opponents hope it doesn't get that far.

Jane Johnson, secretary of the Citizens Organizing Project, lives in Gilson but traveled to Peoria to support the cause. She said she doesn't want to see the land destroyed because she thinks it will harm land productivity and the water supply.

"If we don't defend the land and the air and the water, who will?" she asked.

Banner Mayor Ken Fuller said he'll keep Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, among others, informed about any developments.

"It's gonna be a long time before that's done," Fuller said when asked if the mine would drive residents away from the area. "There's a lot more bridges for them to cross."

Some opponents said the mine and noise from its construction would drive away wildlife, including fish and snapping turtles, which use the area as breeding grounds.

Others said the mine will drop the water tables in the area, causing water in wells to decrease and possibly forcing water to be supplied to Rice Lake via pumping because water that originally ran into it would instead go straight to the river.

And then there are those who may be forced to move should the permits be granted.

"It's a tough decision," Grigsby said. "It's a battle."


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