LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Reclaiming all of the coal mines in Kentucky and six other Appalachian states could cost an estimated $7.5 billion to $9.8 billion, according to a new report by Appalachian Voices, an environmental conservation group.
The report says the states have approximately $3.8 billion available from bonds to reclaim the 633,000 acres of coal mine land.
Kentucky has 54,000 acres unreclaimed and 139,000 acres partially unreclaimed, according to the report.
The report studied coal mines in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Alabama.
The report estimates Kentucky has $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion in reclamation liability, but only $887 million in bonds to cover that cost.
The report suggests coal companies unable to complete reclamation should forfeit their bonds so state regulatory agencies can complete reclamation.
The report estimates 5,800-to-11,700 jobs could be created in Kentucky by completing reclamation.
In its conclusion, the report says the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement should require state regulatory agencies evaluate mines for outstanding reclamation needs and costs, require updated mine reclamation and closure plans to deal with the leg in reclamation efforts and that Congress should provide funding to make up for bonding shortfalls.
To view the complete report, click here.