Illinois A.G. Weighs Action Against State Natural Resource Office for Slack Enforcement of Mine Oversight

Illinois A.G. Weighs Action Against State Natural Resource Office for Slack Enforcement of Mine Oversight

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Associated Press via Midwest Energy News:Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is considering legal action against the state’s natural resources agency for what prosecutors call a failure to follow the terms of a court-brokered plan to toughen oversight of coal mines.The tougher regulations were part of broader reforms touted with much fanfare two years ago by the administration of former Gov. Pat Quinn. They followed criticisms by environmentalists who alleged the state Department of Natural Resources was too cozy with mining companies and other businesses it regulates.The rules included a requirement that regulators provide earlier notification of new mine applications and that mine permit applicants be available to answer questions at public hearings. But two years later, the new rules have not been enacted, and the resources agency now wants to package the new rules with other pending changes that some environmental groups say actually weaken public participation.”It is frustrating that the new rules are not yet in place,” said Ann Spillane, Madigan’s chief of staff. “It is past time for the department to stop delaying the implementation of new rules and to fully comply with the court order by allowing meaningful public participation.”The threat of renewed legal action comes as the coal industry is battling economic and political challenges that threaten many jobs in central and southern Illinois. The DNR is now overseen by the administration of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former venture capitalist who defeated Quinn, a Democrat, in 2014 after the new regulations had been announced.The state has 15 pending requests for new mines, permit revisions or renewals that could be affected by the new requirements, government records show.The reforms adopted by the DNR in 2014 settled a lawsuit by Madigan, a Democrat, over the agency’s 2007 approval of a surface mine near the central Illinois town of Banner amid resident complaints about potential threats to their water supply. IDNR eventually rejected the permit, but Illinois prosecutors continued to press their case against the agency, resulting in a March 2014 consent agreement in Sangamon County Circuit Court.The head of the DNR at the time called the reforms “the most recent steps to further restore the integrity of this agency and allow for more public participation as we work towards becoming a national model for transparency.”Since then, the Illinois Coal Association has petitioned the DNR to revise the so-called Banner rules to better address industry concerns — including a change that would only allow state hearing officers, not citizens, to question mine applicants at public hearings.Full article: Illinois AG mulling legal case over delayed coal mine rules Illinois A.G. Weighs Action Against State Natural Resource Office for Slack Enforcement of Mine Oversightlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *