In the midst of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, Alpha Natural Resources has donated more than 53 million tons of reserves in Pennsylvania to a collection of environmental groups including the Sierra Club and will also pay millions for site restoration in Appalachia. The turnover is part of a settlement the producer agreed to with it and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and Appalachian Mountain Advocates.
The reserves in Westmoreland and Fayette counties in southwestern Pennsylvania were held by Alpha subsidiary Rostraver Energy Co., which lie primarily in the Upper Freeport seam. In addition, Alpha will pay $7.5 million to fund land and stream restoration projects at sites in West Virginia ($1.3 million up front at bankruptcy confirmation and $6.2 million over the following two years) and provide $1 million in project labor and equipment time.
Alpha, which owns 2,400 acres of surface property above the reserves, will donate the first $2 million in proceeds from the sale of the land to the groups. These restoration projects will be implemented by new nonprofit Appalachian Headwaters, which the group said will keep it from ever being mined or burned. Alpha, in return, will get a three-year deadline extension for its ongoing Clean Water Act suit settlement between the environmentalists and two of the company’s mines. Additionally, the groups will not oppose the coal operator’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan.