markviii wrote:I wonder why they don't just auction off the mining rights to the surrounding area and let private industry strip out the coal seams. The state wound get some revenue, the coal companies would get some coal, and it would be an effective "fire break".
I suspect it's a complicated legal issue. It's likely when many of the coal mines were shut down by owners because there was no demand for coal there were unpaid bills and taxes. Those liens would have to be satisfied or forgiven. Without clear title no private investor would invest his money. The owner of the land and the owner of the underlining minerals could be different. I'm sure governments at all levels that have outstanding tax liens would love to have someone paying again. Only when the price for coal rises sufficiently will we see private industry mining coal again.