Over 5,000 Ask Illinois Attorney General to Investigate Permit at Peabody Rocky Branch Strip Mine


Over 5,000 people signed a CREDO mobile petition in just a few days asking Attorney General Lisa Madigan to halt logging and review the permit for a Peabody Strip Mine near Equality, Illinois. The petitions asks:

Due to the extraordinary number of unaddressed issues and permit inconsistencies and errors, we call on Attorney General Lisa Madigan to file a petition requesting an internal administrative review of the Department of Natural Resources' decision to allow the Rocky Branch Strip Mine.

I visited the Rocky Branch neighbors with a mix of sadness and inspiration this week. It's heartbreaking to see the area depopulated as Peabody buys homes and drives out neighbors. It's gut-wrenching to see clear cutting, nearby coal slurry ponds, and a company telling people they'll be sorry if they try to stay in homes where they expected to spend the rest of their lives.

But, it's inspiring to see people stand up to one of the biggest corporate bullies in the world, right in Peabody's own backyard. I'm inspired by them blocking the road to make Peabody follow the law (for a change) and obey vehicle weight limits. The Rocky Branch neighbors are standing strong to take every chance they've got.

The petition was launched by former coal miner and Shawnee Forest defender Sam Stearns. He had inspiring words for residents facing a tough battle:

Years ago the timber industry and the Forest Service pushed a plan to log over 3,500 acres around the Bell Smith Springs National Natural Landmark.  After a protracted battle with grassroots environmentalists, the logging finally began.  Conventional wisdom told the environmentalists to give up, to accept the inevitability of the logging project.  But two days after the logging started—ten acres out of 3,500 were cut—environmentalists obtained a court order which halted all logging on the Shawnee for 18 years.

In order to win short-term battles to protect our land, we have to take a long view of the campaign. We have to adhere to to the principle of endless pressure, endlessly applied. You cannot rely on corrupt State agencies to tell you when it is time to give up.  That is like asking the opposing team what you should do to win.

The Attorney General's office took similar action once before at the Banner mine. Residents of Banner sent another message of support.  

“We join with you in your actions to stand up for your community. We know from past experience that it can be done successfully. A wonderful resource for us at the time of our struggle here in Banner, IL was Jane Johnson. She told us many times to continue the struggle and never give up hope. We want to pass that message to your community. Do everything you can to delay this mining permit. Follow all proper procedures and don't despair about delays as they will often work in your favor. The bottom line is, this is your community and you have every right to fight for it.” – Ken Fuller, Village President of Banner, and Pat Fuller

 The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' credibility is at an all time low after additional news of their cozy relationship with the coal industry. It's the right time to review this permit and how the agency operates. Today, thousands of people are standing tall with the neighbors at Rocky Branch.

  • March 20, 2014
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