The amounts of bonds the state requires coal companies to file to ensure reclamation of mining sites if abandoned have been “significantly insufficient” for several years.
“We’ve been about $4 million short every year on the amount needed to get permits back to permit standards,” Steve Hohmann, Commissioner of Natural Resources, told the legislature’s Natural Resource and Environment Committee Thursday.
He said each year between 15 and 25 mining permits are forfeited in Kentucky.
“It’s been going on for some time,” Hohmann said. “The old bonds were insufficient about 70 to 80 percent of the time. Those sites were not receiving full reclamation.”
Consequently, the federal Office of Surface Mining placed Kentucky on notice that the reclamation bonding program is insufficient and gave it 30 days to come up with a plan to increase bonds. Hohmann said failure to comply would cost the state $48 million for the Abandoned Mine Land program and could lead to federal takeover of the bonding program.
Hohmann said if that happened, OSM would use a federal handbook to set bond amounts, probably increasing bond requirements 10 to 20 times. To stave off that possibility, the Energy and Environment Cabinet filed emergency regulations that more than doubled bond requirements and creates a bonding pool to back those up.
For the full story, read Friday's print or e-Edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.