Enviro groups protest Peabody surface mine permitting in Indiana

The Sierra Club and Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) have filed objections to Peabody Energy‘s (NYSE: BTU) plans to impact more than 15 miles of streams and more than 25 acres of open waters and wetlands at a Gibson County, Ind., surface coal mine.

The club said Nov. 12 that Peabody has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, which would allow the company to dredge or fill more than 84,000 feet of streams, and more than 25 acres of open waters and wetlands in and around Gibson County in order to expand operations at the Somerville surface coal mine complex.

The Somerville mine is located in the headwaters of Big Creek and Smith Fork Creek, which flows into a tributary to the Ohio River. In this case, the proposed “mine through” operation would discharge dredge or fill material into “waters of the United States” on a majority of the 1764.4-acre site.

“Destroying miles of creeks, wetlands and headwater streams will do irreversible harm to local waterways in Gibson County and threaten downstream environments,” said Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter Conservation Director Bowden Quinn. “Attempting to use man-made ditches to replace these vital resources cannot undo the damage Peabody’s coal mine would inflict on our streams and wetlands.”

The reference to “man-made ditches” is to the fact that the Corps requires mitigation of stream impacts by mandating the re-establishment of obliterated stream segments.

In July, groups including the Sierra Club, HEC, and the Bloomington-based Conservation Law Center filed objections to a similar permit request for the proposed Vigo Sunna surface coal mine in Pike County. That is a project of Indiana producer Vigo Coal.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.