Today, nearly 40% of all coal produced in the U.S. comes from Wyoming. In order to access that coal, companies use huge machines to move dirt out of the way. That means a lot of land, over 170 thousand acres, is currently dug up by mining operations in the state. And reclaiming it- restoring it to what it once was- is expensive.
As the health of the coal industry declines, the ability of coal companies to pay for future mine clean-up is in question. Our Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson sat down with Todd Parfitt, the Director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, to talk about coal mine reclamation.