Opponents of proposed strip mine continue testimony

Adriana Colindres

Opponents of a proposed strip-mining operation near Banner have almost finished telling a state hearing officer why they think the Illinois Department of Natural Resources made a mistake by granting a permit for the project.

Attorneys for DNR and Capital Resources Development Co. should start presenting their cases Thursday. They contend that DNR appropriately granted the permit for Capital Resources Development Co.’s planned mine.

An administrative hearing before hearing officer Michael O’Hara is supposed to settle the question about the DNR permit.

The proceedings began June 22 and 23, resumed for two days in July and picked up again for two days this week. Further proceedings are slated for late next week.

O’Hara told attorneys in the case Friday that additional hearing dates will need to be scheduled, probably in late September or early October.

"I hate dragging this out," he said, pointing out that he has multiple obligations, including arbitrations, taking up much of September. "It’s the nature of the beast."

On Friday, the only person offering testimony was John Grigsby, who has lived most of his life across from Rice Lake, which is near the proposed mining site.

Grigsby said he is concerned that a mining operation would cause Banner’s wells to run dry. He also presented photographs of the Banner Marsh area and spent most of the afternoon answering detailed questions from the DNR and Capital attorneys about exactly what the photos depicted.

So far, only opponents to the project have testified in the case. They generally have raised concerns about how the mine would affect water quality and wildlife habitat in the area.