Report: Kentucky needs $1 billion to clean up old coal mines


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.

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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.


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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.