Federal Government Urges State to end “Self-Bonding” for Coal Companies

WASHINGTON, DC - With no relief in sight for a coal industry reeling from multiple bankruptcies and a declining demand for coal, the federal bureau that supervises coal mine reclamation recommended states “should not accept new or additional self-bonds” under current market conditions yesterday. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement advisory has made it clear the conditions that qualify for self-bonding do not exist now and will not exist into the future, until at least 2021.

Many states allow coal companies to “self-bond,” which has raised the threat that bankrupt companies will not meet their obligations to restore lands devastated by coal mining. An NRDC report found reclamation bonds that coal companies are required to post under federal law may outstrip the industry’s financial resources. The three largest coal companies have declared bankruptcies this year - Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources – leaving taxpayers on the hook for more than $3.6 billion in self-bonds issued in ten states.

Following is a reaction to the recommendations from the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement by Sharon Buccino, Director of Lands at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“ ‘Show me the money’ is essentially the recommendation from the federal government to states dealing with bankrupt coal companies. Advising states to end self-bonding is a recognition that the collapse of the coal market is not over and that more must be done to protect people and the environment from the fallout. As the era of Big Coal comes to an end, we must do more to ensure coal companies live up to their obligations to coal communities across the nation by cleaning up scarred landscapes and destroyed watersheds, and restoring public lands we all hold in trust.”


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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