Blackjewel’s bankruptcy demonstrates how the mine cleanup system is coming undone — and how nearby residents bear the burden when coal companies fail to repair their damage.
Updated Jan. 20, 2022: On Jan. 13, Virginia Energy sent a letter to A&G Coal Corporation suspending the permit for the Straight Fork Surface Mine after the corporation failed to respond to the Dec. 8, 2021 show cause order. The permit suspension gives the Justice company until Feb. 14 to deal with the ongoing violations. Failure to do so will then trigger permit revocation and a determination of bond forfeiture.
As a Virginia mine continues to rack up environmental and safety problems, state regulators are proceeding with their strongest enforcement option — bond forfeiture. Based on the track record of related Justice family companies, the situation is not likely to improve.
Mining companies owned by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and his family have chronically violated environmental standards and failed to pay fines and fees. Virginia regulators recently issued notices of mine permit revocation and bond forfeiture for two of the family’s companies.
Virginia regulators initiated bond forfeiture at two coal mines owned by the family of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. The regulators cited failure to pay penalties and chronic environmental and public safety violations.
Blackjewel and Revelation Energy’s July bankruptcy announcement is the latest in a long string of bankruptcies plaguing the coal industry. But this bankruptcy is different, and the troubles it brings could be a sign of more problems to come.
An unreclaimed coal mine has sent mud and debris onto a neighboring property. The mine is one of five Virginia permits owned by bankrupt Revelation Energy and Blackjewel that are now facing bond forfeiture, which means the state or the mines’ insurance companies could take over the cleanup.