The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality approved new rules limiting the self-bonding of coal mines. Theproposed rule revisions to the Land Quality Division (LQD) financial assurance regulations were passed Feb. 19 with a 5-0 voteand will now move forward to Gov. Mark Gordon for consideration.
According to Kyle Wendtland, DEQ LQD administrator, the rule package was implemented as a means of addressing changes in financial assurance instruments, corporate structuring, and financial markets that have occurred since the original LQD bonding rules and regulations were first adopted in 1982.
Wendtland further stated the rules would reduce the state’s reclamation liability risk while providing the industry with sound financial assurance mechanisms by modernizing the financial assurance regulations, retaining all financial instruments for use now and into the future, diversifying financial assurance portfolios, and providing for immediate cash needs in the event of forfeiture.
“We are pleased that the council approved this rule package,” Wendtland said in a release. “A lot of staff time and effort has gone into the drafting and development of these rules.”
According to Wendtland, the updated rules do not end self-bonding but instead modernize the requirements to ensure that self-bonding will be a viable bonding instrument into the future.
The Powder River Basin Resource Council celebrated the proposed self-bonding rules.
“Today is a proud moment for Wyoming,” Communications and Development Robin Bagley wrote in a statement. “We now have the toughest self-bonding rules in the nation.”
Bagley added that in light of the current uncertainties within the coal market, and the huge scale of Wyoming’s mines, former self-bonding rules had become much too risky.
“We are delighted to see the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Quality Council took this step to protect Wyoming taxpayers,” she added.