A recent study shows as many as 600 jobs could be created reclaiming recently shutdown coal mines on the Navajo and Hopi nations.
Peabody Energy, which operated the Kayenta mine, is on the hook for reclaiming thousands of acres and restoring groundwater. Such cleanup projects could put up to 200 people back to work in Arizona. But Peabody has asked federal agencies for an extension, and officials told investors the company is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Cheap gas and renewable energy have replaced coal in the U.S.
The Western Organization of Resource Councils found more than a third of all land mined for coal awaits cleanup, and many communities worry cash-strapped companies like Peabody will skimp on their reclamation duties.
“Peabody’s negligence in moving forward with reclamation is just the latest example of how coal has harmed our people. Coal mining affected the lives and health of the Hopi. It depleted the water supplies we depend on, scarred our land and destroyed important cultural and spiritual resources,” said former Hopi chairman Ben Nuvamsa. “Holding Peabody Coal and the federal Office of Surface Mining accountable for reclamation and putting Hopi people to work cleaning up the mine is a first step to righting many decades of exploitation. Jobs are hard to come by on our remote reservation, so jobs created to reclaim our land would be welcomed by our people.”