Under threat of being held in contempt of court, a Wyoming advocacy group is backing down from its challenge of a bankrupt coal company's mining permits.
The Powder River Basin Resource Council argues that Alpha Natural Resources shouldn't be allowed to renew its mine permit because it doesn’t have sufficient bonding in place to ensure mine clean-up, which is something that is required by law.
The Resource Council asked the Department of Environmental Quality to hear the group's objection, but the department refused, so the Resource Council asked the Environmental Quality Council, an independent state watchdog, to hold a hearing.
But the hearing has been put on hold after the state's attorney general filed a document with the EQC, saying the bankruptcy court could hold the group in contempt for any attempt to interfere with Alpha's ongoing mining operations. Shannon Anderson is an organizer with the landowners group. She says that hadn't crossed her mind until she read the document sent by the Attorney General's office. "We wanted to stay the proceedings out of an abundance of caution for our organization and the consequences to our organization, specifically given the threats from the agency and the company,” Anderson said. Attorneys for the state would not comment on the record.