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Coal firm to pay $7.5M for restoration projects

Coal firm to pay $7.5M for restoration projects

Coal mining company Alpha Natural Resources has agreed to pay $7.5 million for land and water restoration work as part of its ongoing bankruptcy reorganization. 

As part of a settlement with a trio of environmental groups, Alpha will pay for mine site reclamation work in West Virginia above its previous reclamation commitments, the Sierra Club announced on Friday. 

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Under the settlement, the Bristol, Va.-based company, which entered bankruptcy last year, will spend $1.3 million on restoration work once its bankruptcy plan is finalized. It will pay the remaining $6.2 million over the following two years and will also provide more than $1 million in in-kind services through donated equipment and employee time for the restoration projects. 

The company will also give 53 million tons of coal in Pennsylvania to a non-profit, which will prevent it from being mined or burned for fuel. 

In exchange, the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy will not oppose Alpha’s reorganization plan in bankruptcy court and will grant a three-year extension for resolving earlier Clean Water Act complains against Alpha mines. 

The groups cheered the deal in a statement on Friday. 

“We will continue to advocate for a bright future for communities affected by coal mining — starting by putting the funds from this settlement towards reclaiming and restoring Appalachian lands, waters and local economies,” said Liz Wiles, the chair of the Sierra Club’s West Virginia Chapter.

Alpha filed for bankruptcy protection in August, looking to reduce $3 billion worth of debt. A bankruptcy judge in May approved Alpha’s restructuring plans, which included a plan for resolving mine reclamation obligations, the Casper Star Tribune reported at the time.