July 1, 2019
“Blackjewel’s bankruptcy filing is hardly a surprise. We have been raising questions with Wyoming regulators about the company’s financial stability and operatorship because this is exactly what we feared would happen. The entire history of the company’s involvement in Wyoming has had red flags, starting with the fact they were essentially gifted the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines by Contura to rid themselves of the liability. When Blackjewel failed to pay their ad valorem taxes to Campbell County, it was yet another sign that the company was in trouble. And importantly, Blackjewel’s owner, Jeff Hoops, is no stranger to both mine safety and environmental violations at his Appalachian companies, which is why we challenged them even being allowed to operate here. Obviously, Wyoming never should have allowed them to do so.
“As we said less than two months ago when Cloud Peak filed for bankruptcy, we urge the State of Wyoming and county government to assert themselves in these bankruptcy proceedings on behalf of miners, taxpayers, and our environment. We are deeply concerned about Blackjewel’s employees and their benefits as well as the millions of dollars of delinquent ad valorem taxes. Furthermore, we worry about who will continue the reclamation efforts at both mines, and whether the financial guarantees will cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in reclamation bonds. There will be serious consequences for the state but more immediately for Campbell County and its residents. These people deserve better from their state regulators and from the judicial system. Bankruptcy should never be used as a haven for a mining corporation to escape its reclamation bonding and tax obligations.”
- Joyce Evans, Chair, Powder River Basin Resource Council