Self-Bonding in an Era of Coal Bankruptcy: Recommendations for Reform

Federal law requires coal companies to reclaim and restore land and water resources that have been degraded by mining. But at many sites, reclamation occurs slowly, if it all. Mining companies are required to post performance bonds to ensure the successful completion of reclamation efforts should they become insolvent, but regulators have discretion to accept “self-bonds,” which allow many companies to operate without posting any surety or collateral.

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013

Two years after the Fukushima disaster started unfolding on 11 March 2011, its impact on the global nuclear industry has become increasingly visible. Global electricity generation from nuclear plants dropped by a historic 7 percent in 2012, adding to the record drop of 4 percent in 2011. This World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 (WNISR) provides a global overview of the history, the current status and the trends of nuclear power programs worldwide. It looks at nuclear reactor units in operation and under construction.

Fortune Magazine oil spill liability primer

Fortune Magazine's Roger Parloff, with assistence from insurance specialist Christopher Kende, provides a good rundown on liability for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.  One important thing I took away from this review, though not explicitly mentioned in the article: even though accidents are an inevitable part of trying to do very difficult things, the liability rules to address damages remain (a) fiendishly complex and the domain of specialized experts; and (b) are full of gray areas such that many

Transocean: Legally our rig is a ship, so this mess isn't our problem

An article in The Wall Street Journal describes one of what will likely be many interesting gaps in how the US oversees offshore oil and gas drilling operations.  While computer speeds may double roughly every 18 months, the legal rules for core aspects of the country's minerals extraction regimes seem to last centuries.  Hardrock mining is governed by the  Mining Law of 1872, allowing widespread rights to claim public land and pay the government virtually nothing for the m

Gulf Oil Spill: "Not our fault" not a big surprise

With billions of dollars on the line and public wrath at extremely high levels, is it any surprise that every group involved with the BP drilling site are blaming everybody but themselves?  The benefits to the firms of deflecting responsibility and delaying payouts can be immense.  The 1989 Exxon Valdez spill was not finally paid until August 2008, nearly 20 years later -- and at amounts paid were far less than the original awards.  In games like this, even

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