"Peabody Coal Clean-Up Protections Questioned In Illinois"

"ST. LOUIS — A Midwest environmental group is questioning the ability of the country's largest coal producer to guarantee it has enough money for future cleanup of its Illinois mines, and it's threatening to sue the state if regulators don't change their approach.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources allows St. Louis-based Peabody Energy to pledge it has adequate assets to pay for the estimated $92 million needed to reclaim three Southern Illinois mines once there's no coal left to extract, or if the company shuts down.

The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center says that arrangement, known as self-bonding, puts taxpayers at risk should Peabody go bankrupt. Five other major coal companies have sought bankruptcy protection since 2014, and Peabody's stock price has plummeted amid tighter federal regulations and an industry shift toward natural gas, a cheaper and cleaner alternative."

Alan Scher Zagier reports for the Associated Press February 3, 2016.

Source: AP, 02/04/2016