WATCH: When coal goes bankrupt, who pays for cleanup?

Jun 13, 2016

Millions of acres of land are dug up for coal mining in the United States. But because of a regulation change years ago, companies did not have to put aside money to reclaim the land.
Credit Wyoming PBS

When mining companies are done digging up coal, the empty pit mines need to be returned to their natural state.

But due to a process called self-bonding, mining companies don't have to set aside money to do so. As coal mining companies declare bankruptcy, who will pay for the cleanup? 

Inside Energy, a national hub for energy reporting, includes seven public radio and television stations from Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota. Its reporting explores the points of tension, the tradeoffs and opportunities, and the very human consequences of energy policy, production, use and innovation. Inside Energy is an Innovation Trail partner.