The closure of one of America’s biggest coal mines has shut down a family’s entire farming operation.
The coal company, West Virginia’s West Virginia Coal, said Friday that it would suspend operations at its Mine No. 5 mine in the town of Bemidji, about 150 miles north of Pittsburgh.
The company is owned by billionaire coal magnate Harold Hamm, a former CEO of Continental Resources.
The decision comes days after the state Department of Environmental Protection ordered the company to stop work on the mine by mid-July.
The agency said in a letter that the mine is located on land that the company has never mined.
West Virginia is the only state to close a mine.
The state also ordered the closing of two other coal mines.
West Virginia is a national leader in coal production, but it also has become a battleground in a debate over the environmental and health effects of coal pollution.
The coal industry is now in the process of laying off nearly 4,000 employees, including about 1,000 at West Virginia.
West Virginians will have to pick up about $2.4 billion in payments over the next two years to pay for the shutdown.
The companies’ withdrawal of mining from the state was not part of the EPA’s order.
The agency is also expected to announce a lawsuit against the coal company on Thursday, in a case that could force the coal industry to pay billions of dollars to affected communities.