The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Department of Mines and Minerals held a hearing on the Cottage Grove Mine expansion 6 p.m. Thursday in room at Southeastern Illinois College, Harrisburg.
The hearing gave the residents of Cottage Grove Townshi the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions about the Cottage Grove Mine expansion onto 800 acres of land south of state Route 13 in the township. IDNR will issue a permit for the mine expansion when the process for application is completed. The hearing was part of that process.
John Keller, Operations Manager of Cottage Grove Mine spoke to the assembled miners and citizens.
"Peabody provides $25 million in payroll per year to the area. We have gone 859 days with no injury, over 1,000,000 man hours without a safety incident. We protect the land with technological improvements in our mining and we return the land to the same condition it was in before mining began or to a better condition than we found it. Peabody has won multiple land reclamation awards for the Cottage Grove Mine. It is important that a permit be approved to prevent the interruption of the coal mining process," Keller said.
Many residents of Cottage Grove Township spoke about their experiences with Peabody strip mining in the area.
To sum up the many who offered opinions it was stated that Peabody would probably not compensate the residents for loss of property value due to the effects of strip mining.
It was noted that the water table would never return to its pre-mining condition after reclamation and that the loss of natural beauty in the area was irreplaceable.
The effects of blasting in the area were noted by Alan Porter, an area resident who claimed the walls in his home often shook when the miners set off an explosion in the area near his home. "Can you tell me what right Peabody has to tear down my home?" asked Porter of the IDNR representatives. "I have rights and you ain't running me out," concluded Porter.
Steven Karns said he grew up in the community and has witnessed much damage since strip mining began in the area. He cited a damaged memorial, reworked roads that were terribly inconvenient to the citizens.
"The soil that is used to reclaim the land is full of rocks and compacted by heavy machinery. Try planting in that," said Karns.
"We are a 113 year old community and we are about to be raped. We will never be compensated for our loss of wildlife."