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Mine environmental risk grows with bankruptcies in big coal

As more coal companies file for bankruptcy, it's increasingly likely that taxpayers will be stuck with the very high costs of preventing abandoned mines from becoming environmental disasters.

The question is not if, but when, where and how many more coal mines will close as the industry declines, analysts say. Many mines already operate at a loss, and there's not enough money in the fuel anymore to enable their owners to keep their promises to clean up the land.

"It's sort of a situation where nobody, really, is going to end up looking good," said James Stevenson, director of North American coal for analyst firm IHS. "The states have I think a significant risk...

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