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Bennett’s landmark legislation to clean up coal ash becomes law

Sen. Scott BennettCHAMPAIGN – A proposal by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) to provide Illinois communities the protection they need from toxic coal ash pollution was signed into law today.

“This was about preventing coal ash waste from threatening our water and our communities throughout the state,” Bennet said. “I am relieved that we now have the protections, regulations and financial assurances in place that we need to prevent more coal ash crises from happening in Illinois."

The new law addresses the closure of waste pits across the state filled with coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal. There are approximately 25 known coal ash impoundments which are already closed in the state.

Bennett’s measure would establish processes to address the other 50-plus impoundment sites which have yet to close.

It also creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency around cleanups for affected communities and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup.

“All the issues that we try to solve in Springfield are moot if our communities do not have clean water,” Bennett said. “The most basic things that all of us need are food, water, air and shelter, which all come from natural resources. That’s the foundation on which everything is built, so I feel very passionately about protecting our state’s resources for future generations.”

State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) and State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Danville) carried the bill through the House, and a large coalition of activists from around Illinois championed the legislation, including: Central Illinois Healthy Communities Alliance, Citizens Against Longwall Mining, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Clean Power Lake County, Earthjustice, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Faith in Place Action Fund, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois People’s Action, Metro-East Green Alliance, Prairie Rivers Network, Protect the Middle Fork, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and Springfield Clean.

Illinois joins Virginia and North Carolina in addressing coal ash through state level legislation. Senate Bill 9 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Chairperson); Appropriations II; Criminal Law (Vice-Chairperson); Higher Education; Labor; State Government; Subcommittee on Capital.

Biography: Bennett grew up in Gibson City, where four generations of his family worked on their family farm. He moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois after graduating from Illinois State University.

Associated Representatives:
Carol Ammons
Michael T. Marron