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Public Documents Shed Light On Cloud Peak Liabilities

Screenshot from Cloud Peak's bankruptcy docket page
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Last Friday, Cloud Peak Energy chose not pay county taxes to Campbell County. It currently owes a lot - about $8 million. The recently bankrupt coal giant also owes Converse County several million in county taxes that contribute to education funds in addition to county services.

But through recently filed public documents, Cloud Peak says it does expect to pay off those taxes to both counties. Rob Godby, University of Wyoming energy economist, said the company got approval from its Delaware court.

"They've identified the taxes that are owed and will come due in the first 21 days after they entered the petition," Godby said. "What they've said is if we want to keep the mines running, we need to pay our taxes."

Cloud Peak also has $395 million worth of bonds to pay for clean-up efforts.

Before it filed for bankruptcy last week, public documents show the reclamation bond holders wanted replacement bonds and more collateral to back them up. Godby said the company had its premium set when it was still healthy.

"But you are clearly not a healthy company right now and we need to renegotiate your insurance, so we want more collateral put up against any potential loss because your risk is now much higher," he said.

Cloud Peak has paid necessary bills to keep those bonds in place for now. They're worth about $26 million dollars. More discussion will unfold on its reclamation agreements in coming court dates. The auction for Cloud Peak's assets will occur in late June.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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