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Environmentalists Seek Federal Involvement in Mine Reclamation

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that “Wyoming is responsible for making sure coal companies meet their reclamation requirements. But there are growing calls for Washington to intervene following a deal between state regulators and the bankrupt coal miner Alpha Natural Resources that left the vast majority of the company’s $411 million cleanup bill unsecured.”  

“Environmentalists question the legality of the agreement, which allowed Alpha to continue mining in exchange for a $61 million super-priority claim in the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. Under the law, they note, mining firms are not allowed to operate unless they are fully bonded for the cost of reclaiming the land where they work. The deal was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.”  

“‘What that suggests is the state is unwilling to enforce the bonding requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act,’ said Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. ‘One would think something would happen sooner rather than later from the federal government. I don’t think they can let this go forever.'”

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