Pollution Board Denies New Coal Handling Regulations
Updated: Monday, January 27 2014, 01:04 PM CST
The Illinois Pollution Control Board handed Gov. Pat Quinn a defeat on Thursday, dismissing the administration's push for using the emergency rule making process in creating new standards for how coal and petcoke are handled.
Groups like the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Illinois Manufacturers Association filed comments opposing the new rules, as did Springfield's City Water, Light, and Power.
CWLP's comments included concerns that the rule might eventually be expanded to include power plants, and challenged the idea that there was any basis for the emergency rule making process.
"I don't think by any stretch of the imagination they met the rules or the criteria for emergency passage," said Republican Sen. Sam McCann. "I think it was essentially an attempt to deny the people of Illinois due process."
The Illinois Manufacturers Association, along with many other business groups, opposed the new rules as well.
"We're certainly willing to work with both sides through the regular rule-making process," said Mark Denzler of the IMA. "But this is not something that should be rushed through in seven days without the ability to comment."
The rules included coal, despite the fact the issue was started over petcoke dust.
"The state of Illinois had one isolated incident in Chicago, that's been taken care of," said Denzler. "We've had no additional problems in the last six months."
The Illinois EPA can still try to push the rules through the normal legislative process, though the opposition will likely remain due to the extent of the changes that would be mandated.
"Minimum setbacks from property lines," said Denzler. "They're gonna have to pave all the roads and pads. Most troubling is they're going to have to enact huge enclosure facilities to make sure the product is 100% contained."
If approved, the rules would apply to facilities many Illinois mines use for shipping coal overseas.
"In Missouri they don't have these rules that the governor was proposing," said McCann. "So what that means is as they go down the river, instead of loading on the Illinois side, they would load on the Missouri side, and so it would just drive even more jobs out of Illinois."
The EPA can now propose the rules using the standard rule-making process. That would include a 45-day public comment period, then potential revisions to the proposal, followed by another 45-day public comment period. After that, a committee of lawmakers would have the final say.