- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois environmentalists are calling for stricter regulations and better enforcement of existing rules for coal mines.

Residents from coal mining areas and environmental advocates made their case in Springfield on Wednesday.

They say a recent surge in coal mining has heightened concerns over what they consider lax regulation by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

They claim that mines are allowed to continue operating even after violating environmental laws. They also worry that a surge in mining will destroy farmland and pollute water.

The groups were reacting a day after the DNR said it would reform the way it deals with coal mining permits to do a better job of involving the public in the process.

A DNR spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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