Don’t let America's largest coal company stick us with its clean-up bill
Where there’s coal mining, there’s toxic clean up. And coal companies are supposed to pay for it.
But a new investigation by Reuters reveals that America’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, doesn’t have sufficient funds or insurance to clean up and reclaim its own mines.
If federal coal regulators don’t act, we could get stuck with the bill for billions of dollars in toxic clean-up costs.
Tell the Department of Interior: Don’t let Peabody Energy stick us with its toxic-clean up bill!
The report found that, after posting a $787 million loss in 2014, Peabody no longer qualifies for a policy known as “self-bonding” – in which coal companies are allowed to forgo private clean-up insurance if they possess sufficient financial resources.
This policy is in effect a massive subsidy to the coal industry, allowing them to reap substantial savings over buying insurance on the open market, and trusting that coal companies will act in good faith to clean up their mess in a timely manner.
It’s hard to think of an industry that is less deserving of our trust. The coal industry has already abandoned $4 billion worth of mines still in need of clean-up. And if the four largest coal companies alone were to file for bankruptcy, they would saddle taxpayers with $2.7 billion in mine cleanup costs, and no insurance to defray the costs.
Astonishingly, Peabody is pushing back, saying that it should still qualify for the program. But if federal regulators don’t force them to buy insurance, we’ll be on the hook for their mess if the company continues struggling financially in the face of declining coal prices and demand.
Regulators at the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement are currently reviewing the self-bonding policy. And with the Obama Administration’s recent decision to open up vast new quantities of coal for mining in the Powder River Basin, this is a vital moment to make sure coal companies are held fully accountable
Tell the Department of Interior: If a coal company can’t afford to pay for mine clean-up, that company shouldn’t be allowed to mine.
Thank you for fighting to hold the coal industry accountable.
- "The U.S.’s Biggest Coal Company Can’t Pay To Clean Up Its Own Mines," Think Progress, 6/8/15
- "Coal giant Peabody faces federal scrutiny over clean-up insurance," Reuters, 6/4/15
- "Exclusive: U.S. examining coal cleanup program for shortfalls," Reuters, 4/27/15