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New report highlights daunting scope of mine reclamation funding problem facing West Virginia, other Appalachian states

By Mike Tony, Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Appalachia has a multibillion-dollar coal mine reclamation problem. A report released Wednesday highlights just how daunting it is.

It will cost from $7.5 billion to $9.8 billion to reclaim 633,000 acres of just coal mines that have been closed or idled since 1977 across seven Appalachian states, according to the report from environmental nonprofit Appalachian Voices.

That’s twice as much as the $3.8 billion in total bonds available to those states, according to the report.

The report’s author, Appalachian Voices senior program manager Erin Savage, said in a teleconference Wednesday that Appalachian state environmental regulators need to do far more to address the shortfall poised to grow as more coal companies declare bankruptcy, ditch their reclamation obligations and leave state bonding systems on the hook…

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