FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The nation’s leading coal companies are increasingly filing for bankruptcy, leaving behind enormous tracts of scarred terrain and rising doubts that they will ever meet their legal commitments to repair the earth. Concern is growing that the companies and their debtors will use Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to force the costs of mine reclamation onto taxpayers, despite the industry’s standing obligations to pay.The profits of Big Coal have been plummeting in a shifting energy market. Abundant supplies of cleaner natural gas have replaced coal as the fuel of choice in an increasing number of power plants, while the industry has been disappointed in its plans to expand overseas into China and other markets. Jobs have disappeared, a major topic on the campaign trail. Also at stake in the more than three dozen bankruptcies declared in the last three years are hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup obligations, primarily in the Appalachian coal fields.Companies insist they will not shirk their reclamation duties. Unfortunately, their track record is not good in West Virginia, where the mining method called mountaintop removal — the systematic dynamiting of summits to get at underlying coal seams — has devastated the Appalachian landscape, polluted waterways and driven entire hamlets into retreat. “Lipstick on a corpse,” was how Ken Hechler, a former West Virginia congressman, described the industry’s cosmetic repairs to the state’s mesa-like remains of mountains.The court fights are focusing on a loophole, called self-bonding, in the 1977 federal surface mining control law. This allowed state regulators to recklessly let companies, in profitable times, offer a mere promise to cover reclamation costs instead of requiring that they purchase bonds as insurance. The fear is the industry will use bankruptcy to see their obligations to banks and hedge funds paid first, leaving little for environmental cleanups.“Bankruptcy courts need to hold strong and not let financial institutions pocket the money and leave a huge part of Appalachia out to dry,” Peter Morgan, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, told the reporter Michael Corkery of The Times. Similar concerns are growing in other coal-producing regions, westward to Wyoming. The latter produces 40 percent of the nation’s coal and has $2.25 billion in company promises that supposedly will be there for extensive reclamation jobs.The industry was shocked when Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal producer, filed for bankruptcy protection in April. It continues to operate but carries $1.47 billion in self-bonding liabilities. Officials in Illinois are now beginning to wonder whether Peabody will carry through on its pledge to clean up at three old mines.In West Virginia, where politicians have traditionally gone easy on the companies, the mood is hardening as Big Coal vanishes. A special assistant state attorney general has been appointed to pressure the industry’s lenders to share responsibility for the mine cleanups. Industry will make its case in court hearings scheduled next month. Taxpayers can only hope the bankruptcy courts there and elsewhere hold Big Coal to its obligations to fully pay for its decades of severe damage to the environment.Will Big Coal Pay to Clean Up Its Messes? Editorial: Will U.S. Companies Walk Away From Their Cleanup Promises?
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Press Association In-form Robbie Keane is ready to heap the misery on Gibraltar once again after shaking off the injury problems which denied him the chance to shoot down Scotland. The 35-year-old Republic of Ireland skipper plundered a hat-trick inside 13 minutes as his team thumped the Euro 2016 Group D minnows 7-0 at the Aviva Stadium in October last year, but managed only 17 frustrating minutes as a substitute when the Scots left Dublin with a precious point in June with the after-effects of a groin injury hampering him. However, Keane is back in business after blasting 12 goals in his last eight games for club LA Galaxy and is relishing the chance to add to his remarkable tally of 65 senior international goals at the Estadio Algarve in faro on Friday evening. Ireland will go into the game with five men – Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, James McClean, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson – just one booking away from a ban with Germany and Poland to come next month. However, manager Martin O’Neill insists he wants those of them involved to forget about what might lie in store . O’Neill said: “It is what it is and of course those players who are on two yellow cards, I would like to remind them just that there are some challenges that you would think might not be worth it; of course there are other ones that certainly would be. “It is what it is. Some players get booked, as we have seen, now for innocuous things and it tallies up. But I cannot start predicting and worrying myself about anything that’s happening.” The Ireland captain said: “Obviously the last game, for the first time in my career I was out for more than four weeks – it ended up being two months, which is the longest it’s ever been, so physically for the last game, I definitely wasn’t right. “I didn’t feel as fit as I’d like to, playing only I think one game or two games, maybe, 30 minutes and 60 minutes, I think, before I came in with the squad, so I certainly wasn’t fully fit. “But I’ve had a good few months now since then. I’ve been fully fit, the team has obviously been doing well and personally, it’s been going very, very well for me, so I certainly feel fit and raring to go.” Keane’s distinguished career is undoubtedly drawing to a close, but the striker, who has established himself as one of the leading goalscorers in international football, insists retirement is simply not in his thoughts, for now at least. He said: “It matters that I want to win every game I am involved in. I certainly won’t be retiring before October, so I will be fully focussed on the next few months and these four games, concentrating fully on tomorrow and then we can have a conversation maybe next year or two years’ time, if you want.” Ireland simply must beat Gibraltar and Georgia in Dublin on Monday evening if they are to maintain any hope of qualifying for next summer’s finals in France, and having experienced a near thing in 2007 when the republic were almost embarrassed by San Marino, Keane will be taking nothing for granted. He said: “That’s certainly a game I always refer to – it was probably one of the worst performances we have played for a long time. But in the end, we managed to get the three points with a last-minute goal by Stephen Ireland, so that’s why you always have to be cautious when you are playing these teams. “If you look at the cups in England, there’s always an upset somewhere, so we have to make sure that’s not us.”