Coal Mine Proposed for Vermilion and Champaign County

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Alice Englebretsen lives in Urbana and has been active in the local environmental and social issues for many years. She is currently Political Chair of the local Prairie Group of the Sierra Club, but is tracking the Sunrise Coal/Bulldog Mine issues. She can be contacted at


When Sunrise Coal, LLC, of Indiana, proposed development of an underground coal mine, the response was not surprising.  Local groups and environmental organizations were quick to raise concerns about risks to the east-central Illinois environment.   Sunrise Coal applied for a permit to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Mines and Minerals for an underground coal mine in the southwest part of Vermilion County and the southeast corner of Champaign County.  Concerned local citizens and several environmental organizations, including the Prairie Group of the Sierra Club, are working on educating the public about the risks to our environment in building this coal mine.

The proposed Bulldog Mine poses threats to the water, air and land.  Large quantities of water are required for washing the coal, with the risk of discharging waste into local waterways. Coal dust in the air, from coal stockpiles, presents serious threats to public health due to the heavy metals contained in coal-mine waste.

In addition, many acres of farmland are required for construction of coal slurry pits containing heavy-metal contamination.  Subsidence (land sinking) of valuable farmland is also a long-term risk.

Sunrise Coal proposes to build the underground coal mine on 390 acres in Phase One within the first 10 years.  It is estimated that 75% of the coal will be sent outside Illinois preventing the state from benefiting from energy produced by this mine.  The Village of Homer is currently studying the feasibility of providing 320,000 gallons of water daily for the coal mine operations.  The study is expected to take at least six months.

Stakeholder meetings are scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss all the issues regarding the proposed coal mine.  To learn more, contact Brian Perbix ( at Prairie Rivers Network for the latest schedule and to be put on the email list for ongoing updates.

More information can be obtained from Prairie Rivers Network at, Stand Up To Coal at, and Friends of the Salt Fork at

TAKE ACTION:  Sign the petition to stop the mine on the Stand Up To Coal website at

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