Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Play

Does North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's criminal-justice reform go far enough? Plus, Congress is running out of time to prevent a shutdown and default, and Oregon tackles climate change.

Play

The nation's murder rate is up, the Senate votes on raising the debt limit, the DEA warns about fake prescription painkillers, a new version of DACA could be on the way, and John Hinckley, Jr. could go free next year.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Who Cleans Up Environmental Mess Bankrupt Coal Leaves Behind?

Play

Monday, September 21, 2020   

WHITESBURG, Ky. -- As more coal companies file for bankruptcy, it remains unclear what will happen to hundreds of thousands of acres of unreclaimed mine land in eastern Kentucky and the rest of Appalachia.

Eight coal companies declared bankruptcy in 2019, and that number is expected to rise amid declining demand for fossil fuels. Mary Varson Cromer, deputy director at the Appalachian Citizen's Law Center, said 29% of all mining permits in Kentucky are now in bankruptcy.

"And all of those bankruptcies are cases where companies are dissolving and trying to sell all their permits," Cromer said. "And we've seen in Cambrian and BlackJewel a real failure to get those permits sold and get the environmental liabilities transferred."

Blackjewel gained nationwide attention in 2019 for failing to pay its employees. A bankruptcy court recently ruled the company could only be ordered to address environmental violations that constitute an immediate threat to public health and safety.

The company holds 209 Kentucky mine permits.

Meanwhile, homes located near mining sites are at risk from landslides, water pollution, flood hazards and other environmental threats. Willie Dodson, central Appalachian field coordinator at the group Appalachian Voices, said the mechanisms that are supposed to ensure funding is available for mine reclamation have failed coal communities.

"So the situation we're in right now is, just a staggering amount of environmental cleanup liability is kind of hanging in the balance, as the industry draws down and companies go bankrupt," Dodson said.

Cromer expects bond money and the state to cover some costs, but she said the industry is leaving behind large swaths of scarred land and miles of polluted streams.

"I think the most likely scenario is that there is some money for cleanup but not nearly enough," Cromer said.

Federal legislation known as the RECLAIM Act would release up to $1 billion from the Abandon Mine Land Reclamation Fund to clean up abandoned mines and spur economic development on reclaimed land. But the bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate.


get more stories like this via email

Public schools need to minimize arrests at schools by using emergency mental-health teams instead of police officers to address behavioral incidents at school, according to a Sentencing Project report. (Adobe stock)

Social Issues

ARLINGTON, Va. -- As a Northern Virginia school system transitions away from using police officers in schools, a new report suggests COVID stimulus …


Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- In five weeks, voters in many Iowa cities will cast their ballots for local elections, and the Secretary of State's office is …

Social Issues

AURORA, Colo. -- School districts across Colorado had to get creative to ensure families could access critical meals during pandemic-related closures…


Companies behind a proposed natural-gas plant for Wisconsin hope to break ground by 2025. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

SUPERIOR, Wis. -- Legal proceedings continue involving a proposed natural-gas plant for northwestern Wisconsin. The plans have been approved by state …

Environment

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Draft rules are out for a program designed to confront climate change in Oregon, but organizations say it does not go far enough to …

Doctors say medicines given to livestock, including ivermectin, frequently contain other ingredients that are not meant for human consumption. (carola68/Pixabay)

Health and Wellness

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A veterinary drug doctors call unsafe for treating COVID-19 has caused the deaths of two people in New Mexico, according to the …

Social Issues

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed sweeping criminal-justice reform into law this month that is meant to hold police more …

Health and Wellness

BALTIMORE -- Spurred on by COVID challenges, a grant from the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council to two human services providers is …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021