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Pritzker Signs Coal Ash Cleanup Bill Into Law

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law Tuesday a bill barring coal-burning power plants from discharging a toxic byproduct into the environment.

Coal ash entering the water supply can have serious health impacts on humans and wildlife. 

“Coal ash is a public health issue and a pollution issue, and the state of Illinois is taking action to keep communities safe,” said Pritzker in a statement. “This new law will protect our precious groundwater and rivers from toxic chemicals that can harm our residents."

A 2018 report from a group of environmental organizations found 18 times the U.S. EPA's drinking water standard of coal ash near the E.D. Edwards power plant in Bartonville. 

The law requires power companies to pay for coal ash cleanup and beefs up various environmental protections.

“Someone needs to be responsible for cleaning up the toxic waste around coal power plants, and it shouldn’t be local taxpayers,” state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said. “I commend the advocates who made this bill happen and the governor for making this a priority.”

It also requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to develop new coal ash rules. 

“This is the most significant step to protect clean water and public health that has made it into law in years. People across the state who have struggled with the impacts of toxic coal ash are grateful that their calls for action to protect our groundwater and hold big polluters accountable have been heard. It’s now critical that the Illinois EPA develop the strongest possible coal ash rules with community input to ensure that this historic bill realizes its promise for coal ash communities across Illinois,” said Joyce Blumenshine of the Sierra Club in a statement. 

Other coal power plants in Central Illinois include the Powerton plant in Pekin, Duck Creek near Canton, and plants in Havana and Hennepin. 

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.