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Central Appalachia’s newest coal boss facing bankruptcies - Report

Coal News - Published on Thu, 13 Dec 2018

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Mr Tom Clarke, a well-known Virginia businessman and self-proclaimed environmentalist, has had an interesting first few years as a new player in the US coal industry. He first became involved when he targeted Jim Justice by purchasing a billboard in Wise County, Va., calling out Justice for ongoing violations at his mines. Clarke then began working directly with Justice, claiming he was helping Justice fulfill his companies’ obligations. At first, local communities and environmentalist were hopeful that Clarke might persuade Justice to improve company practices. Now, Clarke has purchased mines of his own and is already facing company bankruptcies, and it’s beginning to seem more like Clarke has been learning from Justice.

A Virginia resident with a background in accounting and healthcare management, Clarke entered the coal business at a time when many coal companies were going bankrupt and mines could be purchased cheaply, albeit saddled with a lot of liability. He took on the risk, claiming his motivation was to promote environmental conservation. Clarke pitched a plan to reduce mining’s environmental impact by making sure that mines would be reclaimed and that carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants would be offset by preserving and replanting forests. His plan seems to rely on carbon credits and a carbon market that does not yet exist.

For decades, Clarke had predominantly run nursing homes, most recently through Kissito Healthcare, which operates skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers in Virginia and Arizona. Then, in 2015, Clarke purchased several mines owned by Patriot Coal as part of that company’s bankruptcy proceedings. Since then, he has acquired additional coal mines in Central Appalachia, as well as iron ore mines in Minnesota. His coal companies now included Earth Restoration Project (ERP) Compliant Fuels, LLC, which has gone on to form many additional companies and subsidiaries, as well as ERP Environmental Fund, a registered nonprofit, which controls mining permits in four states.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Thu, 13 Dec 2018
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