Peabody Energy a Restoration Company?

It’s hard for me to believe, but Peabody Energy has won awards for environmental restoration in my home state, Colorado.

The company earned the 2009 “Excellence in Research and Use of New Practices Reclamation Award” from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety and the Colorado Mining Association for its work to restore lands at its former Seneca operations in the state.

In addition, Dennis Jones of Peabody’s Colorado Conservancy Group also was recognized with the state’s Dr. James Pendleton Award for outstanding work to maintain water quality in the semi-arid climate of Northwest Colorado. The award is among the highest individual honors presented by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. (Source: Water Management, Land Restoration Efforts by Peabody Energy Recognized in Colorado, Waterworld, March 11, 2010)

Is this the same Peabody Energy that operated the Black Mesa mine on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona and used billions of gallons of water from the aquifer under the mesa to transport its coal to the Mojave Generating Station? I remember visiting Black Mesa and having people tell me how piss-poor the company’s “restoration” efforts were; I particularly remember someone saying they weren’t using native grasses. Perhaps those people were poorly informed, but the general feeling I got was that Peabody was not respected for its restoration efforts on the Navajo Reservation, nor for the fairness of its royalty payments.

But then I read these paragraphs in the Waterworld article:

Peabody’s environmental and operations teams work with academics, regulators and community stakeholders to restore Colorado lands to a condition that is typically four times more productive for livestock grazing than native range. Restored lands provide a haven for deer and elk, offering some of the highest densities of big game in the region.

The team developed unique soil handling, fencing and irrigation techniques for the state’s high elevations, reestablished native woody plants and aspen trees, and partnered with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to create vital breeding, nesting and brood-rearing habitat for the potentially threatened Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Under Jones’ leadership, the company also created a stream and ground water monitoring system that is one of the most comprehensive in Colorado. An advanced network spans dozens of stream sites and springs and more than 90 groundwater monitoring wells, which provide necessary data to maintain water quality to high standards. Jones is among nearly a dozen Peabody employees who have been individually honored by state, regional and national authorities for environmental excellence.

Worldwide, Peabody earned more than 30 awards for safety, environmental and financial performance this past year. The company’s environmental programs in Colorado have earned widespread state and national recognition, including honors since 1994 and national honors for land restoration from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2000 and 2006.

Sounds like it’s great for Colorado. It also sounds like it might come pretty straight from a Peabody press release.

Now if Black Mesa could just get all that water back…

Here’s information about the permitting process for the suspended Black Mesa mine from Sourcewatch.