The Wall Street Journal:
A mining company’s debt-cutting plan will leave taxpayers facing a bigger bill for cleaning up nearly two dozen hazardous sites primarily in the central U.S., including a swath of northeast Oklahoma that once produced lead ore for bullets in both World Wars.
The 22 properties will be shed by miner Peabody Energy Corp. when it leaves bankruptcy with a plan that shifts cleanup costs to the government.
Peabody’s chapter 11 plan, approved Friday by a federal judge, and related settlements allow the company to provide about 2% of as much as $2.7 billion in environmental liabilities asserted by federal, state and tribal authorities for the sites polluted from lead and zinc mining that ended decades ago.
But the gap between what governmental authorities sought from Peabody and what they will get at the end of the bankruptcy means the cost of cleaning up the sites will fall to governments and taxpayers. That comes as state budgets are stretched thin and the Environmental Protection Agency faces a 31% funding cut under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.