House Of Delegates Approves Bill To Aid Mine Reclamation
The House of Delegates approved a bill on Friday to help cover the cost of reclaiming abandoned mines.
An audit last year found the state’s special reclamation fund is insufficient to cover the cost of cleaning up the state’s mine sites.
The audit said the state could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in mine cleanup obligations. Coal company failures in recent years have worsened the problem.
State lawmakers are proposing a Mining Mutual Insurance Company that would issue bonds to cover those liabilities.
It would consist of five appointees chosen by the governor, the Senate president, the House speaker, the Department of Environmental Protection secretary and the state insurance commissioner.
The five-member board would manage $50 million in taxpayer funds. Its proceedings would be closed to the public and the news media, as lawmakers exempted it from state open meetings law and the Freedom of Information Act.
The House voted 61-36 in favor of Senate Bill 1. It will need a vote in the Senate to become law.