Another Mountaintop Removal Company Goes Bankrupt


Written by Amanda Starbuck

Big news this week in the coal industry: Patriot Coal, the third-largest Mountaintop Removal (MTR) coal mining company, is filing for bankruptcy.

Bank of America is among the banks providing bankruptcy filing services for Patriot. This is a real opportunity for BofA to use its influence and environmental ambition to work with Patriot and forward-thinking politicians like West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller to close and clean up those MTR mines and transition the Appalachia region into a producer of clean, renewable energy.

Patriot joins Massey and ICG on the roster of large MTR producers who have fallen into trouble in recent years (Massey and ICG were bought-out by Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, respectively). Patriot hasn’t received the quantity of negative press that Massey and ICG were awarded, but their operations still left a devastating impact on the communities and ecosystems surrounding their mines: significant selenium pollution.

Selenium is a toxic element that causes reproductive failure and deformities in fish and other forms of aquatic life. In 2010, in the most significant judicial decision to date to address selenium pollution from coal mines in Appalachia, a federal judge ordered Patriot Coal to prepare $45 million in secured credit to cover the costs of treating the pollutant at two of its coal mines in West Virginia.

In January 2012, attorneys for the Sierra Club and other groups filed a major lawsuit settlement that will require Patriot Coal to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to treat selenium pollution from three of the company’s major MTR mines in West Virginia. The deal required Patriot to build and operate new treatment systems for 43 water discharge outfalls on 10 different permits. The deal also requires Patriot to drop any future plans for mining a major permit — and creating significant selenium pollution — at its Jupiter-Callisto Mine in Boone County, WV.

The sad story of Patriot reinforces the bold speech by West Virginia’s Senator Rockefeller last month. He said that West Virginia coal operators must stop shrugging off climate change and pollution-related health problems and “face reality” about the future of coal.

This post was originally published by Rainforest Action Network.


Related Stories:

Bank of America: Strong on Rhetoric, Weak on Climate & Coal

Child Porn Charge Against Activist an Attempt to Sidestep Discussion on Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop Removal Mining Is Ecological Suicide




Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work! Isis Relocation Ltd

Fred Hoekstra
Fred H6 years ago

Thank you Amanda, for Sharing this!

Avis S.
Avis S6 years ago

Of course this also means when its finally "proven" what damage was done to communities andpeoples health no one will be able to sue the S.O.B.s either.

Terry V.
Terry V6 years ago


Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons6 years ago

Shut them all down good. I hope they all go bankrupt at least they will not be blowing up more mountains.

Gayle J.
Gayle, J6 years ago

It's really unfortunate the the miners in these areas get laid off and get angry when these horrible coal companies go out of business since they could get good jobs if they'd start transitioning to alternative energy. Instead of blowing up the mountains, turn them into wind farms and turn these miners into champions for clean energy. It's the future, coal is the past and there's no getting around that!

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H6 years ago


kelly rahach
kelly r6 years ago

Ron, you're so right about titles. I have a business competitor whose name begins with 'American... .... .... ' , all of his ads have the American flag. He's been caught bribing city officials in Cleveland and several counties in VA. If I catch him again there's a federal investigation in it.

Couldn't be happier companies are going belly up. If they can they should divert the corporate salaries involved to the people affected by the toxicity.

Heidi H.
Heidi Hilliard6 years ago

Looks like Patriot got exactly what they wanted; they stole the mountaintop, got their coal and have left multiple people unemployed. Now is our time to capitalize by using this new work force to erect solar panels or wind turbines. We can make an example of Patriot Coal. Remember folks, we are anti-MTR NOT anti-coal. I respect anyone who works hard for his family, miners included, but there's a better way to do it while leaving our mountains intact.

nicola w.
Jane H6 years ago

So they don;t have to clean up the mess because they are economic idiots and environmental vandals...
All mining and large scale productions should have to put a Clean up bond down BEFORE starting work - it should be a condition of the license