Deputy Director Mary Cromer was interviewed for this in-depth story, which dives into what the Blackjewel bankruptcy – and others like it – will leave in its wake.
“Blackjewel has been trying, with some success, to sell its mining assets and reclamation obligations to other companies.
But it’s not clear how many of those ownership transfers will be allowed by environmental regulators and whether those buyers will ever be able to resume mining or fully reclaim the sites, said Mary Cromer, an attorney and deputy director of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center Inc., in Whitesburg, Kentucky, which represents citizens groups in the case.
The whole industry is in distress, and it’s increasingly uncertain what it will leave behind, Cromer said.
‘There will be some level of coal industry remaining, but this has been a death spiral,’ Cromer said, adding that unreclaimed mines are threatening to become even more serious health and safety problems in the years ahead, she said.
One of Cromer’s clients, Tracy Neece, of Herald, Kentucky, told the court in a sworn statement of a dangerous situation at a property that’s been in her family since the late 1930s. Neece has three rental homes on a mountain in Floyd County below an unreclaimed surface mine run by a Blackjewel affiliate, Revelation Energy LLC, which is also part of the bankruptcy case.
‘It looks like a bomb went off,’ Neece said of the mined land, which he also owns and had leased to a previous company that had also gone bankrupt.”