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Peoria Could Receive $7 Million in Public Health and Environmental Projects from Settlement

Nearly $7 million for environmental and public health projects could be coming to the Peoria area.This comes after an agreement was reached between the company that owns the Edwards Coal Plant and several environmental groups.

On Tuesday, the parties involved in the lawsuit reached what is called a consent decree. In addition to the multi-million dollar settlements, the Edwards plant will close by the end of 2022.

The settlement marks the end of a lawsuit from 2013. Several environmental groups had alleged that Illinois Resources Generating, or IPRG, the owner of Edwards power station, violated the Clean Air Act. Ryan Hidden with the Sierra Club says the closure of the plant will directly impact the public health of some residents in Peoria.

“Winds go directly and settle along the cliffs and the bluff there in the south end that’s why you have there in the south end people with breathing conditions at highers rates than anywhere else in the city,” said Hidden.

Brian Urbaszewski with the Respiratory Health Association says right now, there is no exact plan on how the money promised in the settlement will be used. However, one area that is being looked at is solar energy for low-income neighborhoods.

“Try and focus on areas where it can bring public benefits or it could help raise up someone by keeping more money in their pocket who doesn’t have a lot to begin with,” said Urbaszewski.

IPRG chose not to comment, instead referring to a statement they released back in September.”

The statement read: “The proposed settlement resolves a long-running lawsuit while providing three years of certainty for the more than 70 employees working at the Edwards plant and, importantly, a transition period for the community to plan for the plant closure. IPRG and Edwards look forward to continuing to provide reliable power for Illinois for the next three years while supporting the communities where our employees live and work.”

The US Department of Justice says they have no objections. The agreement, or consent decree now awaits approval by a US District Judge.

Andy Weber

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