MADIGAN: DYNEGY DONATION TO STATE TODAY RESULT OF LANDMARK 2005 CLEAN AIR SETTLEMENTLand Acquisition Connects State Wildlife Area and State Park in Vermilion County
Chicago - Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that another important benefit of a 2005 clean air settlement was realized today with the transfer of 1,135 acres of land owned by Dynegy, Inc., in Vermilion County to the State of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) took possession of land following the title transfer this morning.
The State’s acquisition of this undeveloped acreage, situated along the east side of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, is an important component of the May 2005 settlement between Dynegy, Madigan’s office, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several environmental organizations including the American Bottom Conservancy, Health and Environmental Justice-St. Louis, Inc., Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Prairie Rivers Network. Dynegy donated the Vermilion property, valued at $2.25 million, to the State of Illinois as a portion of the $15 million in Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) required of Dynegy as part of the settlement agreement reached in 2005.
The land is adjacent to the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area to the north and Kickapoo State Park to the south across from Dynegy’s Vermilion power station. The donated parcel is primarily wooded and dominated by a large, forested ravine system, which also contains seep-spring wetlands and other geologically-significant areas.
“Future generations of Illinoisans will benefit greatly by the addition of this land to the natural areas under the stewardship of the Department of Natural Resources,” Madigan said. “Along with cleaner air that will result from the other components of this settlement, the Vermilion acquisition preserves important land, expands the natural areas available, and as a result, enhances the quality of life in east central Illinois.”
The settlement stemmed from a 1999 lawsuit that was part of a federal initiative to bring Dynegy’s Baldwin Energy Complex and its other coal-fired power plants into full compliance with the New Source Review provisions of the federal Clean Air Act. At the time, Illinois Power’s Baldwin Power Station in Randolph County was one of the largest sources of air pollution in the nation. Dynegy acquired Decatur-based Illinois Power in 2000 and, under the consent decree in this case, the company will spend more than half a billion dollars over the next 10 years to control emissions from the Baldwin Station and four other power plants in Illinois including the Vermilion facility near Oakwood.
According to the IDNR, the newly-acquired property also connects the Vermilion County Conservation District’s 3,000 acre Kennekuk County Park to Kickapoo State Park and Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area. The area features more than two miles of frontage along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River which is the state’s only federally designated scenic river. IDNR officials estimate that limited access to the area may be available to the public later this year.
“This acquisition will provide even greater recreational opportunities for visitors to this area, in addition to providing protection for 1,100 acres of ecologically significant land from development,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “We appreciate the work of the Attorney General’s office, and of our conservation partners for making this acquisition possible.”
Today’s Vermilion County acquisition follows the purchase last year by the State of Illinois of a parcel of forested land in Madison County known as Bohm Woods. Located adjacent to the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus, Bohm Woods was at risk of development but now is preserved as natural land and habitat by the IDNR. Bohm Woods is the largest and best old growth forest remaining in the Metro-East region of the St. Louis metropolitan area.The IDNR’s Division of Realty handled the logistics and details of the land acquisition. Bureau Chief Thomas Davis handled the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau.
- 30 -