On Wednesday, February 13, two Navajo community organizations, Tó Nizhóni Ání and Black Mesa Water Coalition, along with Sierra Club, stated they sent a notice of intent to sue to Peabody Western Coal Company, saying the company is attempting to get out of its reclamation duties by not disclosing the Kayenta mine closure later this year. on their latest permit renewal to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).
The groups claim Peabody knew the Kayenta mine would close when it was announced in February 2017 that NGS would be closing in December 2019 but failed to add this information and the reclamation costs to close the mine, estimated at $188 million, to the OSM prior to the agency approving Peabody’s permit renewal for the mine through July 2020. The groups claim Peabody violated the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act in failing to disclose the closure of the mine and the cost of reclamation.
According to the groups’ statement, “Peabody’s permit application stipulated there was no proposal for ‘any revisions to the approved mining and reclamation plan’ through the permit term, ending in July of 2020”
As a result of not disclosing this information, Peabody ““avoided a determination from OSM that reclamation as required by SMCRA could be accomplished by Peabody” following the closure of the mine according to the process Peabody outlined in its permit renewal application in 2015, according to the notice.
“Peabody Energy is blatantly neglecting its legal obligation to prepare for reclamation of the Kayenta mine, which is on track to close later this year,” said Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director of Tó Nizhóní Ání said in the groups’ statement.
“Peabody is trying to sidestep its reclamation responsibilities by pretending the Navajo Generating Station isn’t on track to close in 2019, but it is, and that’s been the case for two years,” said Jihan Gearon, Executive Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition.
The groups are asking that Peabody reapply for a new permit which discloses the closure of the mine and the reclamation costs, and that the current permit be revoked.
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