Alpha Natural Resources disagrees, meets W.Va. requirements
Alpha said today it strongly disagreed with Wyoming DEQ’s decision and was reviewing its options. The company said it qualified based on its own calculations, following the state’s rules. And it said DEQ should have given the company more clarity before making a determination.
“Alpha and its affiliates take very seriously our obligation to operate in an environmentally responsible and fiscally sound manner,” said Alpha Chief Financial Officer Philip Cavatoni. “We also appreciate the firm but fair approach with which the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has managed its self-bonding program in the past, which is why the limited transparency in this current process is concerning.”
Alpha has told investors that problems with being able to self-bond could affect the company’s finances. The downturn has made it harder and more expensive for companies to secure financial assurances through financial institutions.
Regulators with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have also been reviewing Alpha’s self-bonding there. Spokesman Jacob Glance said the company is in good standing. States can have different requirements for self-bonding as long as they follow SMCRA principles.
“According to its first-quarter financials, Alpha now meets eligibility criteria for self-bonding,” Glance said. “However, the DEP continues to closely monitor Alpha’s financial situation and is in discussion with the company about its future plans.”
In 2012, West Virginia lawmakers boosted the special reclamation tax on coal-mining companies to make sure the state has enough money to deal with sites where companies went bust and forfeited their bonds.
The federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement is coordinating bonding issues with the states amid the downturn (Greenwire, April 28). Last month, it urged West Virginia to take account of special reclamation commitments that companies have made when calculating total liabilities.
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