WV MINE CLEANUP FUND GOING INSOLVENT - Mine Companies Rarely Held Accountable

By Bob Weaver

Coal is king.

A new audit said West Virginia's coal mine cleanup fund has no known backup plan if it goes insolvent.

The report released Monday said the mine reclamation program is at risk of insolvency due to the threat of bond revenues not raising enough to guarantee the fund's future.

Among its several recommendations, the auditor calls on the environmental department to not approve applications for permit renewals for companies that have not paid taxes for the special reclamation fund.

There has been little accountability.

WV politicians have turned their head when coal companies abandoned their operations, deep or strip mining, likely affecting up to 1000 sites with some creating health and safety hazards to land, air and water.

Some have been reclaimed.

Many of those companies declared bankruptcy to start new operations.

The government clean-up appears to have reclaimed the tip of the iceberg.

Reclamation of shuttered coal mine sites is crucial to preventing environmental pollution. Contaminants can seep into waterways and harm wildlife if not properly handled after a mine closes.