Sunrise Coal LLC wants to create a large underground coal mine in southwestern Vermilion County. The proposed enterprise could bring as many as 300 jobs, but any mining operation carries environmental concerns as well.
Sunrise officials hoped to buy water and sewer services from the village of Homer, which will be closest community to its operation. After weeks of public hearings, Homer officials recently declined to provide those services.
Sunrise representatives say the project will move forward as they consider alternative sources for water and sewer services.
Many of the concerns expressed by those who spoke at the public meetings centered on those environmental concerns.
Vermilion County saw two underground mines close in recent years, the Vermilion Grove and Riola mines between Catlin and Indianola. Neither of those mines used municipal water sources, and neither appear to have created any environmental concerns.
Sunrise holds mineral leases to more than 19,000 acres, which provides income to those land owners. Since it will be an underground mine, landowners will be able to continue to farm much of that land.
The addition of 300 jobs as proposed by Sunrise also stands as a benefit. No job is a permanent one these days, but the promise of good wages for a significant period of time would boost the local economy.
It’s easy to see why residents who protested the proposed water deal with Homer are concerned, and they deserve credit for speaking out on the issue.
However, as long as Sunrise meets — or, preferably, exceeds — regulations set by state and federal governments, it’s difficult to see a reason to oppose the operation.