Report: Cascading bond forfeiture threatens surface mine cleanup
A new report from Appalachian Voices warns that mining companies will increasingly abandon reclamation bonds as the coal industry continues to decline in the Southern Appalachians, adding to already extensive public liability for cleanup costs.
Cleanup and reclamation with a price tag of nearly $10 billion must be still be done on 630,000 acres across seven states, according to the report, Repairing the Damage: The costs of delaying reclamation at modern-era mines.
Reclamation of lands and waters destroyed by coal surface mining could create some 40,000 jobs across the affected regions, virtually replacing, at least temporarily, all the mining jobs that have been lost during the past decade.
“The coal industry has declined precipitously in the last decade, raising the question of whether adequate regulations are in place to ensure that mined land is properly reclaimed,” according to a summary of the report, which was released July 7.
“As more coal companies declare bankruptcy, fewer companies remain to take over mines, so the number of companies forfeiting mining reclamation bonds and deserting their cleanup responsibilities will only increase. In many states, the funds generated by bonding programs may fall short of the actual reclamation costs that are passed to state agencies and taxpayers,” according to Appalachian Voices.