The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has revoked a permit for a proposed coal mine just north of Canton in Fulton County.
The DNR had issued a mining permit for the “North Canton Mine” several years ago but the agency has now decided it did not follow its own guidelines when doing so.
The Sierra Club and Canton Area Citizens for Environmental Issues filed a suit requesting the DNR review it's initial decision to issue a mining permit.
Illinois Sierra Club Director Jack Darin thinks the DNR now realizes that it needs to take a much harder look at the effects coal mines have on the environment before allowing any to go forward.
"Hopefully this decision ends this chapter and the citizens of Canton won't have to worry anymore about a dirty coal mine being built just upstream of their drinking water lake.," Darin said.
The coal company could still challenge the DNR’s ruling in court.
If they don't appeal or if the appeal is unsuccessful, the company could still reapply for a mining permit.
Even if they did reapply for a permit, the recent decision was still a major blow to the companies plan to open a mine.
That's the view of grassroots organizer Brian Perbix of the Prairie Rivers Network. His group has fought applications for water pollution permits at other proposed mine sites by the same group that's trying to build the North Canton Mine.
"Even if they do decide to go forward they're essentially back at square one where they were more than five years ago and they have to begin the entire administrative process over," Perbix said.
The owners of the proposed mine also own the mine near Industry, which was cited for over 600 pollution violations last year.