Bonding, Bankruptcy, and the Environmental Legacy of the Appalachia Coal Industry

A 2018 study conducted by Duke University revealed that surface mining has altered one out of every 14 acres of land in central Appalachia. Federal law requires that coal companies pay to clean up the land, but decades of weak enforcement by state regulatory agencies has allowed the companies to avoid their obligations.

Now, as the coal industry dies, economically and environmentally devastated mining communities will be left to face the consequences—unless the federal government intervenes. The incoming Biden administration can take steps to help clean up land, create jobs, and rebuild Appalachia's economy.