According to the Casper Star Tribune, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) now has until February 12 and February 22 to complete its investigations into Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, respectively, regarding their reclamation status.
The initial deadline was February 1, but DEQ officials responded that they needed more time due to the evaluations’ complexities. They requested March 1 because of the “factual and legal issues raised in the letters and the multiple other demands on DEQ as it prepares for the upcoming legislative session,” but its date proposal was rejected.
The probe as a whole first emerged in mid-January, when the OSMRE said Alpha and Arch, both in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, may be holding insufficient insurance for its permits.
Both companies utilized self-bonding for its properties; however, the DEQ said last year that Alpha no longer qualified for the status and ordered it to put up collateral. In the case of Arch, which filed for bankruptcy last month, it has remained qualified for self-bonding under its Arch Western Resources division.
When it filed for bankruptcy last year, Alpha agreed to a $61 million “super-priority” claim for Wyoming on its obligation of $411 million.
The combined tab for Alpha and Arch’s reclamation obligations total about $900 million, according to the Star Tribune.