|State regulators plan to spend more than $2 million dollars of taxpayer money to reclaim two abandoned mine sites in 2007.|
The cost of still un-reclaimed abandoned mines in West Virginia is likely over $1 billion dollars.
So, if you think West Virginia politicians have looked after your environmental interests and your pocketbook, think again.
The Department of Environmental Protection has just awarded contracts to install acid mine drainage treatment systems at one site near Thomas in Tucker County and another site along the Maryland border in Preston County.
Douglas Coal Company last mined the Tucker County site in the 1960s. The Preston County site was last mined in 1956 by Stanley Coal Company.
The number of coal mine sites that have been abandoned by coal companies in need of urgent reclamation is on the rise.
Many of the companies went bankrupt, or just abdicated responsibility.
Acknowledged sites needing reclamation are in the hundreds, but various environmental groups say they may run well over a thousand.
Current mountaintop removal sites cannot be reclaimed to where they will re-forest and have a viable eco-system that nature provides.
The clean-up money comes from the Abandoned Mine Lands trust fund.
Ken Ellison, director of the Division of Land Restoration says the state needs at least $733 million dollars to do all the reclamation work needed on sites that are listed as top priorities.
Those are sites where human health and safety are in danger.
Few companies have been held accountable when they pulled out of their strip mine operations.