Did you know that West Virginia has over 173,000 acres of unreclaimed mineland? This is land left behind after coal companies have mined our mountains. West Virginia has a long way to go to restore the viability of abandoned mine lands which is important to improve water quality, revitalize landscapes, and create jobs and economic development in coal communities.
The federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) requires coal companies to pay the cost of reclaiming the land they use and to make this happen. SMCRA requires coal operators to post a bond adequate to cover the reclamation costs. In West Virginia, the SMCRA-required bond rate does not cover reclamation costs. To cover the shortfall, a “Special Reclamation Fund” (SRF) was created to cover the cost of reclamation for sites that went bankrupt or forfeited their bonds.
Currently, reclamation liabilities far exceed the money available in the SRF and this crisis could end up costing state taxpayers over $1 billion. As a solution to the problem, legislators passed SB1, which will use $50 million in taxpayer dollars to prop up the riskiest coal companies, passing the responsibility on to West Virginia citizens. This number is likely just a starting point.
What Can You Do? Urge your legislators to address this crisis without gauging taxpayers. Please email your lawmakers (see sample message below)!!
Read our fact sheet here.
Please email Senate and House Energy Committee members! (Copy email addresses below)
Call to Action Email
As a West Virginian, I am concerned about the pending bankruptcy of the Special Reclamation Fund and the underbonding of mineland reclamation sites. Our state faces a very real and costly disaster if we do not take action to create legislation that addresses these issues and provides a solution.
We must raise bond limits for mining bonds, require more stringent bonding authority, and take the liability away from the taxpayers footing the cost for reclamation efforts. Though SB 1 was passed during the 2022 legislative session, it does not address the root of the problem, does not follow the recommendations of the legislative audit report, and makes taxpayers liable to cover reclamation costs.
House Energy Committee email addresses – Click on email list below to select the entire list, then copy and paste into ‘To’ field to send a personal email to all committee members: (Click here for phone of each member)
Senate Energy Committee email addresses – Click on email list below to select the entire list, then copy and paste into ‘To’ field to send a personal email to all committee members: (Click here for phone of each member)