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Government Considering Asking Voluntary Boycotts of Coal Abusers

November 26, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Office of Surface Mining said Monday it wants major coal buyers to voluntarily boycott ″gross abusers″ of federal strip mine laws and regulations.

Under the proposal, after a 30-day warning miners would be put on a ″buyer blocking list″ that would be made available to coal buyers and miners through a toll-free hotline.

The office said it believed ″direct economic impacts of voluntary buyer blocking...are potentially severe. Secondary and equally severe impacts may also occur in that gross abusers may experience difficulties in securing bonding.

″In addition, the disapprobation experienced by gross abusers within the coal mining industry, among potential markets and in the public arena will further separate responsibile operators from those who flout the law,″ the office said.

The draft defines a ″gross abuser″ as a company that has not corrected a violation 30 days after being ordered to do so by the government, or is late in paying undisputed reclamation fees.

Companies could avoid being listed by correcting their violations or successfully challenging them.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s second-largest coal buyer, already checks suppliers for violations. The government said other buyers that might cooperate include the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and the Energy Department and its regional power marketing administrations, as well as utility trade groups and state utility regulators.

Jed Christensen, acting director of the office, said he had received ″a fair amount of negative feedback″ already from the coal industry on the boycott proposal, while ″environmental groups applaud it.″

He said the list would be available only through the hotline. Publishing it would risk a chance that a company might be wrongly listed, Christensen said.

Tom Altmeyer, vice president for government affairs of the Mining and Reclamation Council, said, ″We take extremely strong exception to buyer blocking. We call it blacklisting. We think it is entirely inappropriate for the government to ask the private sector to boycott pirivate companies.″

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