Rep Bourne Fights for Illinois Coal

Springfield, IL… State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) joined a bipartisan coalition of downstate legislators to support legislation that would instruct the federal government to extend a public comment period on new environmental rules targeting coal mining.

House Resolution 687 would ask the U.S. Interior Department to give states more time to respond to regulations that would hinder mining operations across Illinois.

The public comment period on the rules runs for 60 days. The resolution backed by Democrats and Republicans calls for that to be extended by 180 days.

Illinois has the largest recoverable bituminous coal reserves in the United States, a reserve base larger than all but six countries in the world. To put into perspective how large that number truly is, Illinois coal has the ability to produce all of America’s energy for 100 years or be energy self-sufficient for 600 years. The reason for its lack of utilization stems from The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 where it was decided that the sulfur dioxide content of Illinois coal was too high for emission standards and could not be burned without flue gas desulfurization equipment, commonly referred to as “scrubbers.”

“Illinois has been a leader in energy production within the United States, in large part due to our vast coal resources,” said Rep. Bourne. “Illinois is the largest electricity exporter in the Midwest and one of the largest in the U.S., nearly 45% of Illinois' energy comes from coal-burning plants within the State.”

Rep. Bourne had filed a resolution earlier this year urging multiple state agencies to conduct studies and gather information regarding environmental impact and potential revenue from Illinois’ coal industry.

“Over the last 20 years, due to environmental regulations, the state’s production of coal has dropped from 62 million tons in 1990 to just 31 million in 2003,” stated Rep. Bourne. “The resolution’s aim was to shed light on the many factors that have led to its decline as well as how Illinois can feasibly utilize the state’s supply of coal in the future. The current discussion at the federal level will further impact our coal industry so it’s important that we have more time to give Illinois’ coal industry a fighting chance.”