States Asks For More Time To Address Federal Coal Inquiry

Jan 29, 2016

A dragline mines coal near Gillette, Wyoming.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming regulators have asked for more time to respond to the federal government's concerns about potential lapses in state oversight of coal mine reclamation.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement sent two ten-day notices to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality on January 21st. The agency believes that two bankrupt coal companies, with hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding clean up costs, could be in violation of federal mining regulations.  

The letters give DEQ ten days to fix the problem or explain why it can't. The state is asking for an extension to March 1, saying there are complex legal and factual issues to sort through.

Ten-day notices are not uncommon but can be a precursor to more serious federal action.