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Green groups buying depressed coal stocks

WHEELING, W.Va. — Before President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, a share of stock in coal producer Peabody Energy Corp. reached a value of nearly $90.

Recently, after several years of new environmental regulations being introduced, that stock price fell to slightly more than $1 in value.

Documents filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission show that billionaire George Soros, an outspoken opponent of fossil fuels, recently purchased more than 1 million Peabody shares. He also acquired 553,200 shares of Arch Coal Inc., a stock which also collapsed significantly under pressure of the Clean Power Plan and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

According to Forbes, the 85-year-old Soros has a net worth of $24.2 billion, which makes him the 19th wealthiest person in U.S. His firm, Soros Fund Management, directly gave $34,000 to Obama’s 2008 campaign. The firm spent more than $44 million on political campaigns since 1990, with the vast majority of the funding going to Democrats.

However, Soros is not the only affluent environmentalist to capitalize on coal’s demise. The Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, a nonprofit organization seeking “sustainable approaches and public awareness about natural resource use” will assume some West Virginia liabilities and operations from bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. Virginia hospital executive Tom Clarke serves as CEO for this fund.

Under the terms of the agreement, the fund would acquire the Federal mining complex in northern West Virginia and the Corridor G mining complex in southern West Virginia, along with some other mining permits. The fund will also assume $400 million in liabilities for Patriot’s workers’ compensation, state black lung and environmental obligations.

“Continued mining at Federal will allow us to launch our ‘compliant fuel’ program, which bundles reforestation carbon credits with coal sales, effectively reducing carbon emissions, as required under the new emission standards,” Clarke said in describing a strategy for his product to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

“We expect to maintain employment in West Virginia at the current 683 employee level and expand employment through our investment of up to $176 million in land reclamation, reforestation and water quality improvement,” he added.

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