Recent coal company bankruptcies pose a significant risk to taxpayers, the Secretary of the Interior told a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday.
Some of the largest coal companies in the country were never required to put up cash or obtain third-party insurance to cover their reclamation costs.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the federal government is concerned there is little cleanup money set aside as the coal industry slides deeper into financial trouble.
“With some of these recent bankruptcies, we have seen a negotiation between the state and the companies that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement find of concern,” she told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The federal government sent notices asking Wyoming to justify the deals that were negotiated. Wyoming regulators maintain the agreements ensure reclamation, and that the federal government has no right to second-guess their decision.