To help stimulate the local economy, state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, has introduced legislation making it easier for coal companies to receive approval of mining applications.
“Coal is vital to Southern Illinois’ economy and despite recent efforts by President Obama and Washington D.C. politicians to make it harder for companies to mine, this measure would cut government red tape and make it easier,” said Phelps. “The coal industry is under attack from big city politicians, but we have got to do everything we can to protect the good-paying jobs it provides in Southern Illinois. Our region is rich with natural resources like coal and we should be finding ways to tap into it.”
Phelps’ measure would attempt to help reduce the time the application process takes in order to open a new coal mine by providing additional funding for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Due to the volume of applications and the small size of the department’s staff, it often takes close to nine months for an application to be approved. Phelps believes that this bill is great for Southern Illinois because it will help create good-paying jobs, and eliminate the red tape that often prevents these applications from being approved in a timely manner. Since President Obama released his Climate Action Plan in September, Phelps has been working hard to find ways to keep the coal industry vibrant and help them put people to work.
“Coal is part of the fabric in Southern Illinois, and I will not let it become a thing of the past,” said Phelps. “Our region has been hit hard by the president’s actions recently, but I’m working with community and business leaders to find alternatives to keep the coal industry thriving.”
Brandon Phelps represents the 118th District in the Illinois General Assembly, which includes all or portions of Alexander, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, and Union counties.