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Print

IDNR defends Banner mine permit

August 29, 2008 at 07:00 AM

of the Peoria Journal Star

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources opened its defense Thursday of a strip mining permit issued for a project near Banner that opponents say will damage wildlife habitat and water quality.

The hearing Thursday at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources was the first for proponents of the project - the IDNR and Capital Resources Development Co., which proposed the mine.

Opponents of the project, including Banner residents and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, already have presented their evidence that the IDNR erred when it issued the permit earlier this summer.

They contend the project, proposed for an area between Banner Marsh and Rice Lake state fish and wildlife areas near Banner, would harm wildlife at those state areas and affect the water supply for Banner residents. For those reasons and others, they say the permit should not have been granted.

An administrative hearing officer, Michael O’Hara, is expected to determine whether the permit was properly issued, but several more days of testimony are expected.

William O’Leary, a natural resources specialist with the IDNR’s Land Reclamation Division, testified for the entire day Thursday and is expected to resume testifying today.

Virginia Yang, deputy counsel for the IDNR, said she planned to introduce 70 exhibits as part of O’Leary’s testimony and may not conclude her direct examination of him until the next scheduled rounds of hearings. O’Hara set those sessions Thursday for Oct. 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9, if necessary.

O’Leary, who reviewed the permit application at the heart of the hearing, addressed wetland and wildlife issues during nearly seven hours of testimony.

Yang at one point during the hearing Thursday asked O’Leary whether he still believed the proposed mine was compatible with wildlife, particularly bald eagles and ospreys, that call the area home.

“Yes I do,” O’Leary responded.

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The IDNR is defending it because the hearing is not weather to issue the permit or not, it has already been issued. The hearing is to determine if the IDNR followed the propper procedure and was unbias when making a decision. Shortly after the IDNR issued the permit, another department within the state challenged the IDNR, saying the permit was wrongfully issued.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/03 at 02:08 PM

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