In addition to the $27.5 million fine, Dina Cappiello, the national environment reporter for the Associated Press, tells PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill states that according to the settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, Alpha Natural Resources, the third largest coal producer in the country, will pay $200 million to clean up the pollution caused by over 6,000 violations in West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky.
From Cappeillo's article on the precedent of the fine: "This is the largest one, period," Cynthia Giles, head of the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement office, told the AP. "It's the biggest case for permit violations for numbers of violations and size of the penalty, which reflects the seriousness of violations."
GWEN IFILL: We talked about the North Carolina case. And we of course covered pretty closely the West Virginia case from [Jan. 9] — we found all out that water was contaminated, in fact, may still be. Is there a connection?
DINA CAPPIELLO: The connection is coal.
So, you know — it’s widely known, and the EPA has acknowledged this, that coal has a really big footprint on our water resources. And I’m talking about from the mining of coal all the way to the burning of coal for electricity and the waste created by that process, which is what happened in the Duke Energy case in North Carolina.
Cappeillo goes on to explain the irony of the water pollution from that case, that "it was about coal ash spilling into a waterway. This is ash that’s collected actually by air pollution equipment. And so we’re actually transferring what we’re taking out of the air into waterways."