Government Opposes Alpha's Plan To Sell Wyoming Mines

Jun 21, 2016

A shovel moves overburden at Alpha Natural Resources' Eagle Butte mine, outside of Gillette, Wyoming. File photo, August 2014.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

As Alpha Natural Resources looks to emerge from bankruptcy, the government is opposing the company’s plan to transfer its federal coal leases to a new company. The Department of Justice argues Alpha’s current reorganization plan doesn’t adequately address the company’s cleanup obligations.

Alpha’s plan calls for selling off its most valuable assets to a group of its creditors, who would form a new company with them. Those assets include the company's Wyoming mines, which are on federal land. 

What would remain of Alpha would be dedicated to cleaning up less profitable mines in Appalachia. The government says that remaining company would be “inadequately funded and infeasible,” and as a result, would not be able to meet its hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup obligations.

The government says until Alpha proposes more a specific and workable cleanup plan, it will not agree to transfer the profitable federal leases to the new company.