Rauner could overhaul coal mining in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pledge to remake state government could include an overhaul of the way Illinois regulates the coal mining industry.

In a situation that has some environmental groups on alert and coal industry supporters applauding, the governor is  expected to push for a more streamlined permitting process for companies wanting to extract coal from the ground.

Phil Gonet, executive director of the Illinois Coal Association, said he has told Rauner that the key to improving coal regulations is to hire more people to review and process applications.

In one instance, Gonet said an application for a new coal mine in Vermilion County sat idle for 13 months because of a manpower shortage at the Department of Natural Resources.

Foresight Energy was among a top contributor to Rauner’s inaugural festivities, giving up to $100,000 to help fund the events two weeks ago.

Since 2009, the company has pumped $1.9 million into the campaign funds of Illinois politicians, including $10,000 to Rauner’s campaign fund and $12,500 to Rauner’s new IDNR chief Wayne Rosenthal.