Motion: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice hasn’t reclaimed Kentucky coal mines, should forfeit $2.9M

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (AP)
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (AP)(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 8:55 PM EDT
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(Herald-Leader/WYMT) - The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that attorneys for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet filed a motion this week asking a judge to enforce an agreement that included a $2,998,995 penalty against West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, his son Jay, and a number of family coal companies for reclamation violations tied to mines in Eastern Kentucky.

The state also wants to revoke five permits for Justice-company mines and prevent Justice companies from receiving new permits or revising current ones until they fix the violations.

The Justices and their companies “have been provided many second chances to meet their permit obligations and time and again have failed,” the state’s lawyers said in the motion, while Richard A. Getty, a Lexington lawyer representing the Justices, says they will oppose the state’s request, calling it “unnecessarily severe.”

Jim Justice has said his companies inherited many of the violations from a bankrupt coal company he bought. The Energy and Environment Cabinet and Jim and Jay Justice and Justice coal companies agreed on a revised settlement in April 2019. The deal set deadlines for the companies to complete reclamation work at five mines, and for them to post a $2.9 million letter of credit the state could take if the Justices defaulted. Jim and Jay Justice are personally liable for the payment, though the deal included a provision that if the Justices maintained a certain level of payroll at Kentucky mines, they would get back the $2.9 million.

The state’s motion to declare the Justices in default on the deal notes that there had been as many as 14 agreements pertaining to some of the outstanding violations at issue in the case.

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