Environmentalists in central Illinois are calling for tougher regulations on the coal industry. They say coal companies are using land to profit, then leaving residents with a mess.
Director of the Sierra Club's Illinois Chapter Jack Darin acknowledges the regulations the state already has in place. He says the problem is Illinois' lax enforcement of those laws against coal companies.
"Unless they're held accountable for these actions, then what good are the strongest regulations that the state can write?" he said.
Darin want the Department of Natural Resources to get tough on coal companies who, they say, destroy the land they use.
But that argument doesn't make sense to Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association. He points out that coal companies have to pay a "performance bond", which is kind of like a security deposit on an apartment. They have to return the land to pre-mining conditions, or else forfeit the money.
"It's in the company's best interest to do the reclamation so they can get that money back," he said.
A recent court settlement may also pave the way for new mining regulations.