Mediation Continues for Kentucky Justice Coal Companies
Monday, September, 3, 2018
Kentucky regulators have accused West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s family coal companies of breaching their environmental responsibilities. The regulators are seeking millions of dollars in fines for surface mining areas they claim need to be cleaned up.
Justice mining companies, headed by the governor’s children, has been involved in numerous legal battles over the years. They owe several million dollars in back property taxes and are facing a number of lawsuits from vendors claiming to be unpaid. The company also settled a tax dispute recently with several counties in West Virginia.
The current court battle relates to a 2013 agreement Governor Justice made with Kentucky officials focused on environmental restoration throughout the company’s Appalachian mines.
According to the lawyer for the mining company, the restoration is scheduled to be completed in April 2019.
According to federal law, closed surface mines need to be restored to resemble the original shape and contour of the land prior to being mined. Officials claim Justice mines have not been restored and the company has not kept up with the original deadline outlined in the agreement, which was 2015.
The motion filed with the court in mid-August claims, "The cabinet simply does not trust them to complete the remaining reclamation work. The Justice companies habitually blame others for their own bad debts and breached agreements. "
Mediation talks continue, but officials have requested that they be brought to an end. A Franklin County judge refused this request and ordered mediation to continue between the two sides.