Feds Propose Stricter Regs For Coal Mine Cleanup

Aug 16, 2016

A water truck sprays down the dust at Cloud Peak Energy's Antelope mine in this file photo from June 2, 2016.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The federal government is changing its rules for mine reclamation, to ensure there is money available for cleanup even when companies declare bankruptcy. 

The rule change will make it harder for companies to self-bond their clean-up obligations. Companies that pass certain financial tests qualify to self-bond and don't have to put up cash or third-party guarantees for their reclamation. Self-bonding has come under fire recently though as coal companies have been allowed to self-bond even as they head towards bankruptcy.  

The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, or OSMRE, received 117,191 comments when it asked for public input on a petition to change its rules.The office says most of those comments supported stricter self-bonding requirements.

OSMRE plans to propose changes that allow regulators to look at a company’s financial outlook, not just its past performance, require an independent review of a company’s financial health, and diversify the types of guarantees used to secure reclamation.