HISTORY, MISSION AND PRINCIPLES
The Heartland Coalfield Alliance (HCA) works to reduce impacts from dirty coal mining, coal burning and coal waste disposal while promoting cleaner, more sustainable and affordable energy solutions for the Illinois Coal Basin. Our broad based coalition has come together to develop the ideas, share the resources, build public understanding and garner political support necessary to advance solutions that can help communities in the heartland make a just transition from the current coal economy to a clean and sustainable energy economy. The Alliance has generally defined the “heartland” as the Illinois Coal Basin, including parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.
We believe the following principles should shape the Illinois Coal Basin’s energy policies:
- Reduction of state subsidies to the coal industry.
- Implementation of pollution prevention and advanced treatment technologies to reduce the impacts of coal mining, coal processing, coal burning and waste disposal on clean air, water, land and public health.
- Development of cleaner, renewable energy in order to increase their share of our overall energy mix.
- Creation of new jobs and opportunities for those living and working in the Heartland, including a just transition for coal producing communities and workers.
- Enabling local residents and businesses to take advantage of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.
America’s heartland is ground zero for the nation’s clean energy fight. Corporations such as Peabody Energy, The American Coal Company, Arch Coal and The Cline Group are poised to profit from mining these vast reserves of coal in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. But it is America’s heartland that will bear the impacts of coal mining, burning, processing and waste disposal. These include: the destruction of prime farmland and forests from longwall mining and strip mining operations; polluted water from the disposal of coal ash and coal slurry into unlined ponds or abandoned mines; emissions from coal-burning plants that compromise health; and the displacement of residents as a result of these coal-related activities.
Developments at the state and national level make now a critical time to capitalize on recent victories and push for the historically under-regulated coal industry to be held accountable for the pollution it causes. In December 2010, environmental advocates and community activists working to protect land, water and communities from the ravages of coal mining convened with legal and scientific experts as part of a two-day “coal summit”. The first day was planned to gather those working on citizen organizing issues to improve collaboration and effectiveness. The second day was designed to discuss legal strategy as it relates to implementation, enforcement and revisions to the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Out of these sessions, an enthusiastic Heartland Coalfield Alliance was born.
The Heartland Coalfield Alliance is now a burgeoning coalition of coalfield community-activist groups comprised of environmental advocates, community organizers, members of faith communities, students, lawyers and scientists with the shared vision to “make a just transition from a coal economy to a cleaner energy and sustainable economy in America’s Heartland.” In support of the vision, the Alliance has stated goals to (1) build the movement, (2) support ongoing efforts to reduce coal impacts; and (3) develop a roadmap for a just transition from a coal based to a cleaner energy economy.
Working in concert with the many communities and groups engaged on this issue is an essential complement to advocacy and legal tools in our fight to reduce the harmful impacts from the coal industry. Within Heartland Coalfield Alliance, coalfield residents and professional advocates alike are organized to protect public health, safety and welfare and the land, air and water resources upon which we depend. We aim to step up our fight against coal pollution and state subsidization of dirty coal while pushing for cleaner energy development in the Heartland. The Alliance also promotes alternatives that will generate good-paying jobs and create a diverse, sustainable economy that preserves, restores and protects America’s heartland for future generations.
Our membership is open to organizations and businesses who endorse HCA’s mission and principles.