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updated: 4/3/2014 8:11 AM

IDNR says it's reforming coal mine permit process

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Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Resources says it's agreed to reform the way the agency handles coal mining permits.

DNR Director Marc Miller and Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Tuesday that they've agreed on steps to strengthen regulations and improve transparency in the permitting process.

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The DNR will notify the public when it first receives permit applications, require early environmental review and require applicants to participate in public hearings.

The agency also must remain neutral and post permit materials online.

The changes settle a lawsuit that Madigan filed against the DNR in 2007, after it approved a surface mine near the tiny Fulton County village of Banner despite complaints from residents about potential threats to their water supply.

Environmentalists also challenged the permit, and the DNR ultimately rejected it in 2012.

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