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first_imgOp Ed: It’s Time To Prohibit Self-Bonding By Coal Companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Caspar Star Tribune:This past month a completely unknown and unproven company called Blackjewel, LLC “bought” two of Wyoming’s oldest and biggest coal mines. More particularly, they were given the mines in exchange for assuming their cleanup risks and some hypothetical future royalties. They acquired the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines near Gillette from another new and unproven company called Contura Energy, spawned just last year when Alpha Natural Resources went through bankruptcy and spun off what it called its “crown jewel” Wyoming assets. Now the crown jewels aren’t looking so shiny and Contura is unloading them at a loss because these mines are liabilities. Instead, Contura will concentrate on its metallurgical coal business in the East.Hopefully, the one thing that should not be a problem going forward is bonding to assure clean up and reclamation of the mines. Thanks to a settlement agreement with the Department of Interior during Alpha’s bankruptcy, Contura wasn’t allowed to self-bond. Instead of continuing to hide, as Alpha had done, behind the chimera of a self-guarantee – really nothing more than an uncollectible IOU — Contura was forced to back Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr’s reclamation work with surety bonds and letters of credit from third-party financial institutions. Blackjewel should be required to do the same as a condition of the sale before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lets them take over the mine permits. This would insure there will be money available for reclamation jobs if Blackjewel were to walk away from its cleanup obligations while these bonds are still in effect.The recent history of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines demonstrates one thing: their cleanup liabilities are nearly as high as (and possibly higher than) their value as operating mines. This loudly underscores that Wyoming regulators must not continue to allow self-bonding.If uncertainties and a down market continue to plague the coal industry as economists nearly unanimously predict, self-bonds will remain worthless promises and Wyoming will pay the price. Unless Wyoming prohibits them now, the next time mines change hands and weaker and weaker mine owners go bankrupt, we will not be so lucky.Self-bonding has no place in a regulatory scheme that was created to ensure the worst-case never happens. Taxpayers were never meant to be left holding the bag for hundreds of millions of dollars in reclamation work. America’s coal mining regulations were born in the late 1970s when abandoned and un-reclaimed mines were strewn across the country. Congress created an abandoned mine land fee to clean up past messes and required reclamation bonds to prevent future mines from being abandoned without reclamation. But the law also contained a loophole allowing states to accept self-bonds in the place of reliable third-party guarantees. Although Montana and other states showed the foresight to prohibit self-bonding, Wyoming became the No. 1 user in the country of self-bonding IOUs. Three years ago when Alpha, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal all declared bankruptcy, there was more than $2.4 billion of reclamation work in our state not covered by collectible insurance.With the lessons of these bankruptcies fresh in our memory, DEQ is considering an important step to update Wyoming’s reclamation bond rules. The update proposes to remove loopholes that allow companies to qualify for self-bonds when they really shouldn’t. DEQ’s proposed rules are an important change that would reduce risk to our citizens and our state treasury. Unfortunately, there will always be some risk from self-bonding until Wyoming totally eliminates the practice. As DEQ moves forward with their new rules, the agency needs to eliminate ALL self-bonding for ALL new coalmine permits and ALL permit renewals. Colorado has recently taken steps to limit self-bonding after the Peabody and Arch bankruptcies, and Wyoming should follow their example.–Bob LeResche is vice chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and a board member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. He is a former commissioner of Natural Resources for the state of Alaska and executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority.More: Contura Sale Underscores Need to End Self Bondinglast_img read more

first_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Statement Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf released the following statement on the failure of the Senate to act on HB 2375:“The Senate’s inaction on HB 2375 is incredibly disappointing and frustrating for so many Pennsylvanians.“Just weeks after Republicans and Democrats came together to pass fiscally responsible and comprehensive unemployment insurance reform that would provide benefits to 44,000 Pennsylvanians, the failure to move this critical legislation leaves the system’s staffing and operations in upheaval.“The failure to pass this bill now also means that the unemployment insurance system will be forced to lay off workers and close centers who process claims for the very people who are newly eligible to receive benefits because they are out of work and looking for a new job.“Though these impacts will be real and immediate, I will continue to provide workers with additional training opportunities and resources to help them get back to work.”Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf November 16, 2016center_img Governor Wolf Statement on the Senate’s Failure to Act on HB 2375last_img read more

first_imgSecurity officers stand at the site of a suicide bombing in Ndjamena, Chad, on Monday. Photo: Reuters Chad’s military says it has carried out airstrikes on Boko Haram positions in neighbouring Nigeria to avenge twin suicide bombings in Chad’s capital that were blamed on the extremist group. The military says its helicopters have struck at least six bases in Nigeria used by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Earlier Chad said it had arrested at least five suspects in connection to the suicide bombings  that killed 34 people.The country has also banned religious burqas- a garment covering the whole body from head to feet worn by Muslim women. Monday’s attacks were the first of their kind in Chad and appeared to be retaliation by Boko Haram for Chad’s leading role in an offensive against the militants.Security officers stand at the site of a suicide bombing in Ndjamena, Chad, on Monday. Photo: ReutersChad said Thursday its military carried out retaliatory airstrikes against Boko Haram militants in neighboring Nigeria after a pair of suicide bombings earlier this week in the Chadian capital that killed at least 33 people. The military said in a statement that the airstrikes targeted six militant camps and caused “considerable human and material losses.” There were no details on where exactly the strikes took place. Monday’s deadly blasts happened at a police headquarters and police academy in N’Djamena where more than 100 people were also injured.Prime Minister Kalzeube Pahimi Deubet said Wednesday that in response to the attacks the government was banning the wearing and sale of burqas in the country. Chad, along with Niger and Cameroon, deployed troops earlier this year to fight Boko Haram after the militants launched a series of cross-border attacks.  Last week, those countries joined Nigeria and Benin in announcing a new regional task force headquartered in N’Djamena to counter the militants.last_img read more