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To the Editor:

The Big Muddy is our watershed. It runs through eastern Williamson County past De Soto, toward Carbondale and through Murphysboro (right through the town!) then south to skirt some of the most glorious land formations in the watershed, the sheer limestone cliffs and Chalk Bluff, Horseshoe Bluff and then the ecological area of La-Rue Pine Hills on its way to the Mississippi.

If we cannot halt this permanent despoiling, it will happen without environmental impact studies, even though the threat is real to poison the entire ecosystem. We, at least, need to learn what chemicals would be released and what effects they have on living organisms. Let’s get some publicity about that. In our watershed, there are those who use wells for their drinking water, to irrigate crops, make wine. They all need to know what is being proposed and what our IEPA signed off on.

In a true market-based economy, this coal mine might have to concede that caring for its waste in environmentally sound ways costs more than the coal is worth out of the ground. That’s an important lesson to publicize. What value is the IEPA giving to all the proposed damage and loss in the lower Big Muddy River watershed ecosystem?

Southernmost Illinois has glorious natural gifts. Much of our economy depends on them: clean lakes, agriculture, fishing, recreation and winery tourism. We want to attract people and businesses that depend on healthy land and waters. If we must choose between assisting one coal mine and all that comes with an environmentally sound watershed for generations to come, we must choose the future.

Kay Rippelmeyer and David Tippy

Pomona

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