Will Financially Upset Coal Companies Pay For Mines Cleanup?

Coal Mine
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It seems that struggling coal companies won’t be able to spend money to clean up shuttered mines stretching from Appalachia to the northern Plains.

Financial crisis for the U.S.’s biggest coal companies is worsening.

A federal law, passed in 1977, requires coal companies to clean up mining sites when they’re shut down. But it looks that companies will not be able to fulfill their obligations to rehabilitate vast strip mines in Western states – many of which are on federally owned property – as well as mountaintop-removal mining sites in the East, Press Herald reported.

There are many reasons for the poor financial health of coal companies, including cheap natural gas and declining U.S. and Chinese demand for coal.

Layoffs of Coal Miners

Arch Coal is laying off 243 workers, representing 15% of its workforce, at the Black Thunder Mine, which is the largest coal mine in the country.

Citing weak market conditions, Peabody Energy decided to lay off 235 employees from the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, the second largest coal mine.

Assistance For Laid Off Workers

On Friday, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead announced temporary assistance for people affected by the mass lay off of coal miners, MTN News reported.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the Department of Insurance, the Wyoming Community College Commission and the state Business Council have been directed to open temporary community resource centers for those affected by the layoffs.

The resource centers in Casper, Gillette, and Douglas will be staffed with experts from Friday until at least April 4, according to a press release.

The centers will offer services including information on unemployment insurance, job opportunities, job training, and health insurance. Counseling services will be offered from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The centers will also offer resources such as computers, resume guidance, and training.