State Rep. Marron pushes for a task force to address coal-ash deposits along Vermilion River
Rep. Mike Marron (R-Danville) held a press conference Thursday to discuss legislation he introduced that would create a task force to study how coal ash affects the state.
Marron was joined at the press conference by Reps. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield) and Tim Butler (R-Springfield), who are co-sponsoring House Joint Resolution 47. The resolution creates the Illinois Coal Ash Task Force in an attempt to bring legislators, coal company representatives and environmental experts together to study the effects of coal ash on the Vermilion River and the rest of the state.
"This is a very important issue," Marron said at the press conference. "In Vermilion County we have the middle fork of the Vermilion River, which is a national scenic river."
Marron said the Vermilion is close to him personally because he grew up on the river and would ride horses on the surrounding trails.
"We used to fish and canoe up and down the river when I was a kid," he said. "It's a very important river to our county and our region economically."
Marron said the river is an area attraction but there could be potential hazards that not everyone knows about.
"In 2011, Dynegy shuttered a coal-fired power plant on the bluffs overlooking the river," Marron said. "In that shuttered plant there are three coal ash pits that contain 3.3 million cubic yards of coal ash."
Marron said there are serious concerns with the coal ash, which is a byproduct from burning coal to generate power.
"Coal ash contains serious heavy metals that can be detrimental to the environment," Marron said. "There is the potential that at some point in the future, a catastrophic spill into that river [could occur]."
Marron said he filed the resolution to bring people together, regardless of party politics.
"This is a bipartisan resolution bringing stakeholders on this issue to the table to try and come up with a solution for this problem," Marron said. "A solution that is workable for all stakeholders."
Bourne said the issue is not only important in Marron's district but should be treated as a statewide issue.
"Bringing experts to the table is the appropriate thing to do," Bourne said. "I look forward to seeing where this task force goes and I thank Rep. Marron for his leadership on this issue."