Tag: mine

A cautionary tale about how room-and-pillar mining destroys Illinois farmland

Larry Skinner, a farmer from near Newman, Illinois, located in the east-central region of the state, is still dealing with environmental damage from a coal mine under his farm that closed in the 1980’s. Specifically, his farmland is subsiding due to the room-and-pillar mining leaving the ground very weak, especially above where “rooms” created by the mining. Much of Skinner’s land is now unsuitable for farming due to the areas where the ground has sunk being too wet or flooded, and Skinner has to pay out of his own pocket to fix the subsidence, because the mining company that closed the mine under his land all those years ago has long since changed hands.

Skinner’s story, which you can read about here, serves as a cautionary tale about how room-and-pillar coal mining turns some of the most fertile farmland in the entire world into low spots where rainwater collects and renders the land unsuitable for growing crops like corn and soybeans. While room-and-pillar mining is designed to prevent subsidence, in practice, areas where “rooms” have been created by mining between “pillars” left untouched by the mining are very prone to subsiding and causing environmental damage.

Despite the damage that room-and-pillar mining has done to farmland in east-central Illinois, one mining company, the Indiana-based Sunrise Coal company, wants to put even more Illinois farmland at risk of serious environmental damage. The proposed Sunrise Coal mine, which would be located in southwestern Vermilion County, would consist of a room-and-pillar mining operation under fertile farmland, as well as a 500-acre, above-ground coal processing plant and rail transfer point. Additionally, ponds would need to be constructed to store liquid slurry waste generated from the washing process used to remove impurities from the coal. In addition to the risk of farmland subsidence associated with room-and-pillar mining, there’s additional environmental threats associated with the proposed mine, such as coal dust ending up on crops and farmland from the processing plant, as well as the risk of the slurry ponds leaking and causing groundwater to become contaminated. The environmental risks associated with the proposed mine are so severe, Sue Smith and her husband, who own a 1,600-acre farm near the site of the proposed mine, have refused to sell the mineral rights to their land to Sunrise Coal.

As someone from a community, located about 13 miles or so to the northeast of the proposed mining site, that was built around coal mines in the early 20th century, I’m not completely against coal mining. However, there are significant environmental risks associated with the proposed room-and-pillar coal mining operation in southwestern Vermilion County that could cause long-term environmental damage that would negatively impact the area for decades, if not permanently.

BREAKING NEWS: Gogebic Taconite officially drops plans for Penokee Hills open-pit iron ore mine in Wisconsin

Gogebic Taconite, the mining company that bought weaker environmental regulations in Wisconsin as part of a bid to open a proposed open-pit iron ore mine in Wisconsin’s Penokee Hills region, will not open a mine at all in Wisconsin. That’s because GTac has officially dropped its plans to mine the Penokee Hills of the Wisconsin Northwoods after it became clear that the proposed mine was unfeasible for many reasons, two of them being that the mine would cause significant water pollution and would violate Native American treaties:

A company that was looking to open a huge iron mine in northern Wisconsin has officially withdrawn its plans, the state Department of Natural Resources says.

Gogebic Taconite was considering digging a 4½-mile-long mine in the Penokee Hills just south of Lake Superior but announced last month it was closing its office in Hurley and future investment in the project wasn’t feasible.

DNR officials announced Friday the company has withdrawn its pre-application notice. They said the land around the site will reopen to the public.

The proposed Penokee Hills mine was a huge part of the Scott Walker/Wisconsin GOP agenda to win the Northwoods, and all the Northwoods are going to get from Walker and his Republican cohorts are weaker environmental regulations without a single job being created. This is, to put it mildly, a massive defeat for Republicans, both for Republicans at the state level in Wisconsin and for Walker’s likely presidential campaign, and a huge victory for progressives, pro-environment Democrats, Native Americans, and common sense.

Wisconsin Democrats should make repealing the 2013 mining deregulation bill part of a long list of priorities in the 2016 state legislative campaigns in Wisconsin.

Scott Walker: Clean water for Israel, polluted water for America

Wisconsin Governor and likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Scott Walker’s hypocrisy has gone international, as Walker will likely visit Israel sometime within the next couple of years to promote clean water technology in Israel and…of course…his presidential ambitions:

Gov. Scott Walker said he might visit Israel to promote Milwaukee’s clean water technology, a trip that would coincide with his likely run for president.

Walker is one of several governors mulling over a presidential run who could be looking to burnish their foreign policy credentials. Walker said if he visits Israel, it would be to promote Wisconsin. He said there are only a handful of clean water technology hubs in the world, and that Milwaukee and Israel are among them.

While Scott Walker wants to promote clean water technology in Israel and waste Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money on an international trip in order to do so, he wants to pollute Lake Superior and other bodies of water in Northern Wisconsin by allowing Gogebic Taconite (GTac), which Walker illegally solicited $700,000 from in order to pay a right-wing political front group so that they could campaign for him and his Republican cronies, to build an open-pit iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills of Northern Wisconsin. The mine, if opened, would create very few jobs and pollute water used for drinking, bathing, recreation, and other purposes for many Americans. Furthermore, Walker wants to run for president so that he can eliminate the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to allow large corporations to pollute the drinking water of every single American person. To put all of that another way, Walker supports clean water for Israel, but he wants to pollute water here in America.

America does not need another “pro-Israel” president of the Scott Walker-Hillary Clinton mindset of shilling for Israel and screwing America. We need Bernie Sanders to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, because he’ll be a “pro-America” president by putting the American people first.