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America Stands to Benefit from Arch Coal Bankruptcy

WildEarth Guardians Calls on Company to Shed Liabilities, Commit to Ending its Coal Business

Denver—WildEarth Guardians today called on Arch Coal’s Chairman and CEO to take meaningful steps to protect the American public, the climate, public lands, and workers, and wind down its business as the company faces bankruptcy.

“There is no future for coal, and it’s time for Arch Coal to be honest about this with its shareholders, its employees, and the American public who sustain so much of the company’s operations,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director.  “It’s time for the company to take concrete steps to end its mining business for the sake of our climate and our future.”

In a letter submitted today to John Eaves, Arch Coal Chairman and CEO, WildEarth Guardians called on the company to commit to withdrawing pending coal lease and mining applications, to relinquish coal leases, to reclaim its mining operations by dates certain, and to ensure the needs of workers and retirees are fully met.

The letter comes as Arch Coal stated its intent to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today.

Arch Coal is the second largest coal company in the United States and the largest holder of publicly owned coal leases in the nation.  The vast majority of its operations and assets are located in the western United States, where the company’s largest mines are located and where the company has thousands of acres of publicly owned coal under lease that are managed by the federal government.

In its letter, Guardians pointed out that Arch Coal could take meaningful steps today to divest its assets, both saving the company money in the near-term and protecting the climate and the American public in the long-term. These steps include withdrawing applications for new federal coal leases and new mining operations, relinquishing federal coal leases where the company is no longer producing coal, and committing to expeditious deadlines to shut down and reclaim its existing mines.

By withdrawing pending coal lease applications, for example, Arch could eliminate the specter of nearly $1 billion in future liabilities and keep more than 700 million tons of coal from endangering the climate.

Further, by committing to deadlines to shutdown and reclaim mines, Arch could eliminate reclamation liabilities.  In Wyoming, for example, the company faces $457 million in reclamation liability, which could be eliminated if the company cleaned up its mines and fully restored the land.  If not, American taxpayers could end up shouldering the costs of reclamation.

“By shedding liabilities, Arch can ensure that workers and retirees are taken care of, the American public is protected, the climate is safeguarded, and shareholders get some return, even as the long-term prospects for the company are bleak,” said Nichols.  “There is no future for coal, but that doesn’t give Arch Coal license to screw everyone over as they decline.”

WildEarth Guardians has challenged many of Arch’s mining plans in the American West, notably overturning the company’s plans to expand its West Elk mine in western Colorado in 2014.  In its letter, Guardians offered to “stand down” if Arch makes commitments to wind down its operations and commit to ending its coal enterprise.

For more information about Arch Coal’s mines, lease, and operations in the western United States, click here >>


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