"With little more than a promise, the Texas Railroad Commission is trusting a struggling coal industry to pay for the cost of cleaning up old mines."
"In mid-2014, Texas’ biggest utility, Energy Future Holdings, was about to file for bankruptcy, and Texas regulators suddenly had a big problem on their hands. Since at least the 1990s, the regulators had allowed Luminant, a subsidiary of Energy Future, to effectively issue an IOU for the $1.1 billion cost of cleaning up its coal mining operations in Central and East Texas. They had permitted Luminant to “self-bond,” which is essentially just a promise to pay.
With Energy Future Holdings in deep trouble, the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees coal mining in the state, lurched into action. As the company worked to restructure its debt in bankruptcy court, the Railroad Commission scrambled to have the $1.1 billion for environmental cleanup set aside as part of the deal."