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Federal regulators suspect mining violations by Arch and Alpha

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has been put on notice by federal regulators that self-bonding commitments between the state and Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources might be in violation. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement filed two notices with DEQ, requiring response within 10 days. Per agreements with the companies, both producers are required to self-bond for reclamation and other purposes; this essentially means that they hold money in reserve in order to cover the cost of compliance with regulations. The 15-page notice regarding Alpha states that the federal office has reason to believe that in conjunction with the company's filing for bankruptcy, that their bond holdings may have been allowed to fall below the amount necessary to ensure compliance. A similar allegation is made regarding Arch. Here the federal office claims that the most recent DEQ annual review of Arch's finances does not reflect the company's current financial standings with regard to the ability to self bond. The feds allege that the state has relied on information based on 2014 data. Arch has also filed for bankruptcy. DEQ has has been given 10 days to respond to the notices by either correcting mistakes or adequately addressing the complaints. Further enforcement action could be taken after the 10 days. *Feature photo: Coal mining operation in Wyoming h/t Jim Parkin/shutterstock.com / Pitchengine Communities* #bootstrapped #news