The cleanup and reclaiming of coal mines in seven Appalachian states will cost billions, and Kentucky and West Virginia have the largest bills coming due, according to an environmental group’s new report.
Total reclamation liability for the two states is between $4.1 and $5.8 billion, with less than half of that covered by existing bonds, according to estimates in the report by Appalachian Voices.
Pennsylvania’s estimated liability is roughly identical to Kentucky’s, at $1.9 billion to $2.25 billion, although it has an advantage in that up to two-thirds of that liability is covered by bonds.
Reclamation of coal sites typically includes improving the environment and reversing the damages of surface and underground mining.
As the coal mining industry has declined over the last decade, corporate bankruptcies have increased, and “large-scale mine abandonment by several companies” has occurred in Kentucky and West Virginia, it said.
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