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Senate Approves Bill To Backstop State Mine Reclamation Fund

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley.
Will Price
West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill to address the state’s mine reclamation liabilities.

SB 1 passed in the chamber unanimously on Wednesday and now goes to the House of Delegates.

The bill establishes a mining mutual insurance company. The company would sell bonds for mine reclamation and serve as a backstop to the existing Special Reclamation Fund.

That fund kicks in when coal companies can’t meet their reclamation obligations, due to bankruptcy or a decline in coal production.

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, warned that the need could reach hundreds of millions, or billions of dollars and overwhelm the fund.

As he explained to the Senate Finance Committee, that’s why he sponsored the bill.

"My confidence in this bill is so strong. I don't sponsor bills," Blair said. "I'm making an exception this year."

The bill provides for $50 million in seed money, which would be repaid. The money wouldn't come from the Special Reclamation Fund.

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