West Virginia: "Reports: DEP Mine Cleanup Program Unfunded, Mismanaged"

"CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As this year's legislative session begins, a state advisory council is again urging lawmakers to increase a coal production tax that funds abandoned mine cleanups and a scathing new audit says mismanagement by the Department of Environmental Protection could leave the state responsible for 'immense amounts of monies' for reclamation."

"Investigators from the Legislative Auditor's office found DEP did not have accurate data on abandoned site cleanup costs, consistently miscalculates necessary reclamation bond amounts, and often does not complete required inspections of abandoned mine sites.

Auditors also reported that the state is at risk of losing tens of millions of dollars in unsecured reclamation funding if companies and their insurers go belly up.

"Most of the issues identified in this report result from inadequate record-keeping, poor or non-existent internal controls, and a lack of oversight on the part of the DEP," auditors said in a 137-page report."

Ken Ward Jr. reports for the Charleston Gazette January 10, 2012.

Source: Charleston Gazette, 01/11/2012