Deputy Director Mary Cromer was interviewed for this piece.
“Mary Cromer, deputy director of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, said the federal coal mining law didn’t
foresee some of the problems arising during coal’s downward spiral.
‘SMCRA was just not designed for the end of the industry,’ Cromer said.
She and Morgan worry Blackjewel’s bankruptcy could foreshadow more mine abandonments. Functionally abandoned mines are littered across Appalachia. Operators have idled them while they hold out for a
reversal in coal’s fortunes in energy markets, the two attorneys said.
The scope of the problem is also unclear. Cromer and Morgan urged OSMRE to create an inventory of
functionally abandoned mines as the first step in preventing financially troubled companies from permanently
walking away from their reclamation obligations.
‘If the market doesn’t improve, it’s just a matter of time until there is a whole string of Blackjewels,’ Cromer said.
The issue of mines that sit idled for years with little chance of reopening underlines the importance of SMCRA’s
contemporaneous reclamation requirement, Morgan said.
Mine operators are supposed to actively restore land while extracting coal from other parts of the mine. Morgan
said OSMRE should more strictly enforce that mandate.”
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