On Jan. 27, Virginia regulators issued two notices of bond forfeiture on coal mining permits held by companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s immediate family. Federal law requires coal companies to post bonds for mining permits, in order to fund reclamation if the company fails to do so. Bond forfeiture is the most severe enforcement action available to regulators.
Virginia initiated forfeiture on a mine in Tazewell County for Black River Coal’s chronic environmental and public safety violations and its failure to pay penalties. An A&G Coal Corp. mine in Wise County faces forfeiture after the company did not pay administrative fees and civil penalties. This permit is self-bonded, meaning no actual collateral is available to the state.
It was unclear at press time how the Justice family will respond to these actions. In the past, state regulators have opted to enter into lenient compliance agreements with Justice companies, rather than finalize bond seizure and permit revocation.
For updates, visit the Appalachian Voices blog at AppVoices.org/blog. — By Willie Dodson