In our last blog, we shared testimonies several of our community leaders gave during the coal ash rulemaking hearing that occurred on August 11-13th. We also talked about the history of Ilinois’ coal ash law and the rulemaking process. And we discussed why it is important for community members, including environmental organizations like Faith in Place and concerned citizens, to have an opportunity to comment on the draft rules. Read those leaders’ testimonies here.
This is part two, and in it we wanted to focus on testimonies our staff gave at that same hearing. First up is Christina Krost, who spoke during the first of two community sessions on August 12. Then, we have Cindy Shepherd followed by Katie Maxwell who both testified on the second day. Each of these staff members represent a different region – Southern IL, Central IL, and Chicago – yet, they share a common call to seek justice for the most vulnerable communities through their faith traditions.
Read on and see how they each highlight different communities across Illinois that have been harmed by coal ash impoundments. They also call on the Illinois Pollution Control Board to implement specific changes in the final rule that will prioritize justice for these communities.
These are brief selections from each speaker. For their full statements, please click on the PDF link in each section.
Christina Krost, Southern IL Outreach Coordinator
My name is Christina Krost. I’m a person of faith, a mother, and a concerned citizen.
My husband is a United Methodist pastor, and in our denomination, we move around to different churches as our bishop assigns. My family and I have lived in several communities around Illinois: Tiskilwa, Neoga, Harrisburg, and Mattoon. In the 8 years we’ve lived and served in Illinois, we’ve never lived more than 35 miles away from a coal ash pond or coal-fired power plant.
I have three daughters, and my oldest developed respiratory issues when we moved to Harrisburg, battling pneumonia twice in a 1-year span. We tried medication, underwent testing, and visited a pediatric pulmonologist—all at great financial cost even with insurance, but that’s another conversation. I can’t say that her problems were related directly to environmental impacts. But neither can I dismiss it completely.
Read Christina’s full testimony here.
Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois Outreach Director
Good afternoon. My name is Cindy Shepherd. Thank you for the opportunity to address this group as you amend and finalize the Coal Ash rules for Illinois. I appreciate that you listen to citizen concerns.
At Faith in Place, we resource over 350 diverse communities of all faiths, across the state. Country, city, suburb, church, temple, mosque. They are made up of families whose faith includes the moral obligation to care for Earth, and protect its life-giving power for future generations.
As people of faith, we recognize our responsibility to care for others, religious and non-religious alike, as the best way to live. I encourage you to write protections that promote that best way for all of Illinois.
Read on to learn how Cindy wants the draft rules strengthened.
Katie Maxwell, Communications Coordinator
My name is Katie Maxwell, and I am from the Chicago area. I am also a person of faith, and my Lutheran tradition calls me to seek justice in the world. This is a moment to do just that.
I am speaking today because I believe in people over profits, and I believe coal plant companies need to take full responsibility for cleaning up their messes. From Waukegan to the Middle Fork River, IL's only National Scenic River, I have seen the harmful effects of coal ash first hand. Several years ago, I chaperoned a group of Lake County Youth Eco-Ambassadors—all of whom had grown up within miles of the Waukegan Generating Station (which has coal ash fill that should be covered by the final rule)—on a canoe trip down the river.
We need the final Coal Ash rules to be stronger than this draft so that polluters are held responsible and people are protected. We cannot lose our State’s only National Scenic River. And environmental justice communities like Waukegan need extra protections, such as dust protection and safe transportation during impoundment removal and greater language accessibility to all materials and meetings.
Read Katie’s full testimony here.
Did these testimonies move you? We hope they did. Please consider submitting your own public comment at the next hearing in late September/early October. Dates will be finalized next week, and registration is already open. The Illinois Pollution Control Board needs to hear your story so that all the coal ash sites are cleaned up properly by the polluters!