RALLY FOR STARVED ROCK – OCTOBER 28, 2012

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Despite our efforts, the Starved Rock Mine is slowly inching forward through the permitting process. Since we have had limited opportunities for public input and comment, we decided to host our own PUBLIC MEETING to give YOU a platform to speak out against the mine.

Join the Illinois Sierra Club this October 28th to get your voice heard! Hike the trails, tour the mine perimeter, and tell your stories. United, we can tell Gov Quinn we oppose this mine!

Make your voice heard!

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Illinois Canyon at Starved Rock- Photo Farley Andrews 2012

Attend the Public Availability Session on Wednesday May 23 2012 from 6 to 9 pm

Illinois Valley Community College
815 N Orlando Smith Road, Oglesby, IL

The Illinois EPA will hold a public availability session to answer questions about the permits which Mississippi Sand need from the Bureau of Air for the mine’s air emissions and from the Bureau of Water for construction activities. The Department of Natural Resources and Historic Preservation Agency will also have representatives at the Availability Session and will be providing information to the public concerning their roles in evaluating the project. Mississippi Sand representatives will also be present.

At the session IEPA will solicit written comments from the public. Comments regarding the air and water impacts will become part of the record on those permits and IEPA will pass on comments on other aspects of the project to the agencies.

If you can’t make it on the 23rd please send comments by May 31, 2012 to:

Brad Frost, Community Relations, Illinois EPA, 1021 N Grand Ave. E., P.O. Box 19506, Springfield IL 62794 or brad.frost@illinois.gov.

OR send comments to IEPA using this link: https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=8725

For more details to include in your comments check out our talking points.

Background on the Fight to Save Starved Rock

The Proposal
Mississippi Sand LLC is requesting permits to mine for frac sand adjacent to the east side of Starved Rock State Park. Illinois is home to St Peters Sandstone which produces a silica sand that is ideal propellant for fracking (the process used to extract natural gas).The mine site is 315 acres, and the company is expecting to mine for 40 years, creating 39 jobs and generating 10 billion dollars in sales. The mine will create an 80 foot deep pit that the company plans to leave as a “lake” when finished mining.

Steps Taken
History
The Ernat family has the owned property since 1940s where they farmed and ran a sawmill. In 2011, Mississippi Sand applied for a special use permit to begin mining. For the permit to be granted, the LaSalle County Zoning Board of Appeals had to recommend to the county board whether or not to grant a special use for mining in an agricultural area.

The Zoning Board
So many people tried to attend the original zoning meeting in November 2011 that it was rescheduled for December in a larger location. Around 200 folks attended the hearings on Dec. 14-15, 2011 which lasted until almost midnight for two evenings, with the board hearing roughly 14 hours of testimony. During the nearly 7-hour meeting on Thursday, Ottawa attorney Paul Martin, who was retained by three members of the Citizens Against a Starved Rock Sand Pit, opened testimony by submitting more than 1,000 hand-written petitions against the sand mine. He included another 640 online signatures acquired at the citizens group’s Facebook page.

Martin used testimony from a number of local property owners and more than a dozen separate exhibits to show the site contains historical Native American artifacts. The landowners all agreed living next to a sand mine operation would negatively impact their livelihood and property values.

The ZBA voted unanimously for the mine.

LaSalle County Board

At the Jan 12, 2012 county board meeting, Paul Martin spoke again for the residents opposing the mine along with President of Mississippi Sand LLC Tony Giordano and the company’s attorney Jonathan Brandt. The Sierra Club had gathered over 6,000 petition signatures urging the county to vote “no” which had been delivered earlier in the week  to the county board office.  Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon sent each board member a letter urging a delay on the vote so the county could deliberate further on the impacts on Starved Rock State Park.

The LaSalle County Board voted to approve permit for mining in a 20-6 vote.

Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources
In September and October of 2011 Mississippi Sand went through the IDNR consultation process. The consultation indicated that Ernat’s Marsh INAI site may be adversely modified or jeopardized and IDNR’s recommended that “measures should be implemented to avoid altering water quality in Ernat’s Marsh by avoiding any direct discharge into it. Specifically, an NPDES discharge point should be selected which avoids any alteration of ambient water quality in Ernat’s Marsh. This can be achieved by piping water to be discharge to a point downstream of Ernat’s Marsh.”  The mine agreed to avoid impacting the marsh for at least 20 years.

Mississippi Sand will also need an Aggregate Mining Permit from the Office of Mines and Minerals.

Cultural Resources

Part of the mining site is located in a High Probability Archaeological Area. The University of Illinois conducted limited investigations of the site in 1987. Artifacts dating from 10,000 years ago were found.  It is likely that the site contains significant cultural deposits and may likely be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Illinois EPA
Mississippi Sand submitted an application for an air permit for a sand mining operation on Nov. 16, 2011.

Mississippi Sand will also need a NPDES permit to discharge wastewater from their sand mining and processing operations.