Citizen scientists discovered that acid mine drainage is causing a creek in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest to flow a bright orange, and they spurred state regulators to issue citations to the mine operators. But mining company Revelation Energy is in bankruptcy, which leaves big questions about who will clean up the mess — and when.
Two coal company bankruptcies in July resulted in retroactively withdrawn paychecks from coal miners and an unclear future for roughly 13,000 acres of unreclaimed mine land.
In February, a federal judge allowed Westmoreland Coal Company to terminate benefits for current and retired coal miners.
A federal bankruptcy judge ruled that Westmoreland Coal Company can back out of its collective bargaining agreements with current workers and retirees as soon as Feb. 28, putting pensions and health benefits for thousands of people at risk.
Although Central Appalachian coal production has seen a slight rebound since 2016, it may be short-lived due to export and transportation costs. Additionally, two coal companies filed for bankruptcy last fall.
Westmoreland Coal’s bankruptcy puts health benefits for 500 Virginians and pensions for 7,000 former Virginia miners in jeopardy. A bill proposed in the Senate would protect these benefits — and also shore up the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.
In October 2018, the oldest coal company in the United States filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While now largely operating in the western United States, Westmoreland has many ties to Southwest Virginia.
Alpha Natural Resources won approval to emerge from bankruptcy. The plan rests on the transfer of Alpha’s core coal assets to new company, Contura Energy, Inc.
Three major U.S. coal companies have filed bankruptcy and are grappling with their liabilities to restore sites after mining and their obligations to employees, past and present.