LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice has reached a $1.5 million settlement with Kentucky officials over dozens of violations at several of his coal mines in eastern Kentucky.
The agreement between Justice and the state's Department for Natural Resources is a reduction from the $4.5 million in outstanding penalties he owed for the violations, according to the settlement. Kentucky officials said the violations came from not doing post-mining reclamation work required by law at Justice mines in eight counties.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters said in a news release Tuesday that the violations at Justice-owned mines "were among the most egregious we have seen in nearly a decade."
"The fact that the operators ignored the many attempts by the state to have them correct the violations made the final agreement even more important," Peters said.
Reclamation work at surface mines typically includes reshaping the land to its original pre-mining contours, along with planting trees and other vegetation to prevent soil erosion.
Justice, who is worth about $1.6 billion according to Forbes.com, has idled several mines in eastern Kentucky and said his Appalachian mines are struggling to stay open due to poor market conditions. He has also idled all his mines in Tennessee. Along with owning coal mines in five states, he owns the historic Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
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