7
Coal Research Needs and Priorities

The task of this committee (Box 1.2) was to broadly examine coal research, technology, and resource assessments, recognizing that they are essential components of an integrated roadmap for our nation’s future energy needs. The intent of this analysis was to allow policy makers to gauge the success of past research activities, gain a clearer understanding of the research presently being undertaken throughout the entire coal cycle, and provide updated and expanded information as the basis for improved prioritization of investment within the coal sector. By also examining critical gaps in research and technology, and the potential impacts of key policy developments, this study was intended to offer a more complete picture of the role of coal in the U.S. energy mix and provide the basis for more informed development of a national energy strategy.

The United States today relies on coal for nearly a quarter of all domestic energy supplies, with most of that coal used to generate more than half of the nation’s electricity. Projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and others foresee increasing demands for electricity over the coming decades and, with it, increasing demands for coal. Recent price increases for natural gas and petroleum-based transportation fuels have made the outlook for coal increasingly bullish, not only for power generation but also for conversion of coal to substitute natural gas and liquid fuels for transportation. The widely cited projections from the EIA’s 2006 Annual Energy Outlook call for a 50 percent increase in U.S. coal use by 2030 in the reference case scenario and an approximately 70 percent increase in the “high-oil-and-gas-price” scenario. Projections such as these provided much of the underlying motivation for the present study, to enable any potential constraints and research and development (R&D) needs



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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy 7 Coal Research Needs and Priorities The task of this committee (Box 1.2) was to broadly examine coal research, technology, and resource assessments, recognizing that they are essential components of an integrated roadmap for our nation’s future energy needs. The intent of this analysis was to allow policy makers to gauge the success of past research activities, gain a clearer understanding of the research presently being undertaken throughout the entire coal cycle, and provide updated and expanded information as the basis for improved prioritization of investment within the coal sector. By also examining critical gaps in research and technology, and the potential impacts of key policy developments, this study was intended to offer a more complete picture of the role of coal in the U.S. energy mix and provide the basis for more informed development of a national energy strategy. The United States today relies on coal for nearly a quarter of all domestic energy supplies, with most of that coal used to generate more than half of the nation’s electricity. Projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and others foresee increasing demands for electricity over the coming decades and, with it, increasing demands for coal. Recent price increases for natural gas and petroleum-based transportation fuels have made the outlook for coal increasingly bullish, not only for power generation but also for conversion of coal to substitute natural gas and liquid fuels for transportation. The widely cited projections from the EIA’s 2006 Annual Energy Outlook call for a 50 percent increase in U.S. coal use by 2030 in the reference case scenario and an approximately 70 percent increase in the “high-oil-and-gas-price” scenario. Projections such as these provided much of the underlying motivation for the present study, to enable any potential constraints and research and development (R&D) needs

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy that may be required to meet increasing demands for coal to be addressed in a timely manner. Perhaps less widely known is that the EIA projections in its Annual Energy Outlook assume no change in current U.S. laws and regulations affecting energy supplies or demand over the next 25 years. Therefore, while the Annual Energy Outlook examines the implications of alternative assumptions regarding energy prices, technology costs, economic growth, and other parameters in its forecasting models, the EIA is precluded from analyzing alternative policy scenarios in that report. However, as a result of specific requests from Congress, EIA models have been used to analyze policy proposals that would require reduced emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. These analyses reveal a very different outlook for coal. In most of these scenarios, future growth in coal use is significantly curtailed and in some cases even falls below 2004 levels by 2030. However, other scenarios and models project significant increases in coal use even with stringent CO2 constraints, provided that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is available to sequester CO2 in geological formations. Overall, the review of current domestic and international coal use forecasts presented in Chapter 2 reveals that potential future constraints on greenhouse gas (especially CO2) emissions, and the technical and economic feasibility of CO2 control measures, are the dominant issues affecting the outlook for the future of coal use over the next 25 years and beyond. The difficulty with predicting the prices and availability of alternative energy sources for electric power generation provides additional uncertainty. The committee explicitly found the following: Over the next 10 to 15 years (until about 2020), coal production and use in the United States are projected to range from about 25 percent above to about 15 percent below 2004 levels, depending on economic conditions and environmental policies. By 2030, the range of projected coal use in the United States broadens considerably, from about 70 percent above to 50 percent below current levels. The higher values reflect scenarios with high oil and gas prices and no restrictions on carbon emissions. The lower values reflect scenarios with relatively strict limits on U.S. CO2 emissions, which cause coal use with sequestration to be more costly compared to other options for power generation. At present, coal imports and exports represent small fractions of total U.S. coal production and use. Projections indicate that imports and exports are expected to remain relatively small. Globally, the largest tonnage increases in coal use are expected in the emerging economies of China and India. Much smaller tonnage growth is projected in the rest of the world, although relative growth rates are projected to be high in several other countries. Again, however, there is great uncertainty in global coal use projections, especially beyond about 2020.

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy It is with the above outlook in mind that the committee undertook an assessment of major needs for coal-related research and development. In accordance with directions from the congressional framers of this study, the primary focus is on “upstream” components of the overall coal fuel cycle. The remainder of this chapter notes two important societal issues—community impacts and workforce demographics—that cut across the coal fuel cycle and then describes current federal support for coal-related R&D. The findings and recommendations from earlier chapters are repeated here to provide the context for a federal R&D investment strategy, coordinated among federal agencies, coal-producing states, and the coal industry, for upstream components of the coal fuel cycle. SOCIETAL ISSUES AND COAL Two societal issues that occur across multiple components of the coal fuel cycle are (1) the community impacts of coal mining, transport, and utilization; and (2) the education and training of the mining workforce and the academic research and teaching profession. Community Impacts Coal mining has both beneficial and adverse effects at all levels, from individual communities to the nation as a whole, but it is the local communities that are at the forefront of these effects. A number of socioeconomic issues exist in some older mining districts that reflect some of the unique aspects of mining as a land use. The impacts of mining on the safety and general welfare of coal communities can include mine drainage, mine fires, waste piles, ground movements (subsidence), and hydrological impacts. An additional concern in new mining districts, such as those in the West, is that the rapid development of sparsely populated areas will produce a sharply increased demand for infrastructure and community facilities that may be very difficult or cost-prohibitive to meet. Beneficial impacts are realized during the productive life of a coal mining operation, and great progress has been made over the years in minimizing adverse impacts. Maintaining a healthy community following mine closure requires deliberate planning to develop new opportunities for the community. The key to establishing sustainable communities is for both industry and community participants to cooperate to develop guidelines, practices, and reporting mechanisms that promote sustainable development (NRC, 1996). The development and adoption of these procedures would benefit from active research programs that lead to case studies of positive post-mining community development. Coal transportation, especially by rail and truck, also affects the communities through which the coal passes. Long coal trains crossing local roads temporarily block those roads, adding traffic congestion and potentially delaying emergency

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy responders. Heavy trucks hauling coal can damage roads and cause deaths or injuries in accidents. Workforce and Education Employment in the coal mining industry has been declining for more than 20 years (Watzman, 2004) (Figure 4.1). Mining workforce demographics have changed substantially, coinciding with increased production from surface mines and increased productivity of both surface and underground mines (Figure 4.4). However, for any of the projected scenarios that involve substantially increased coal production, the skewed age distribution of the existing coal mining workforce (Table 7.1) dramatically emphasizes the need for the industry to attract new miners in addition to replacing the retiring workforce. Similarly, railroads have cited changes in demographics, training requirements, and limits on the availability of qualified personnel as posing a risk to their ability to meet the demand for rail service. Low unemployment in the general economy has been cited as making it more difficult to hire new personnel for jobs on train crews that require considerable time away from home. Consolidation of mining companies and the increasing size of mines over the past two decades have resulted in a marked decline in demand for technically trained personnel. This, coupled with declining funding for academic research on mining and mineral engineering issues, has resulted in fewer accredited programs at the technology and engineering levels and a decrease in the number of graduates and postgraduates from these programs. There is now a substantial shortage of technically trained personnel in the mining and mineral engineering TABLE 7.1 Age Distribution of Employees in the Coal Mining Industry in 2005 Age Number Employed Percentage Cumulative Percent 16-19 1,000 1.2 1.2 20-24 3,000 3.7 4.9 25-34 13,000 15.8 20.7 35-44 16,000 19.5 40.2 45-54 36,000 44.0 84.2 55-64 13,000 15.8 100.0 65+ 0 0   Total 82,000 100   NOTE: The median age for mining employees was 46.1 years, compared with 40.7 years for the overall workforce. SOURCE: BLS (2006).

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy disciplines, and this shortage will be exacerbated by any significant increases in coal production. The limited research funding by industry and government has been a serious threat to the sustainability of postgraduate programs, and the reduction in mining research has had a significant impact on the recruitment, retention, and development of faculty in mining-related disciplines. The vast majority of the academic faculty in mining programs is at a senior level and close to retirement, posing serious succession and continuity problems. Extramural funding by federal agencies directed to universities in support of fundamental research in the earth sciences and engineering would support postgraduate programs and assist in recruiting, retaining, and developing the academic mining profession (NRC, 2004b, 2005b, 2007a). EXISTING FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR COAL-RELATED R&D Coal-related R&D is carried out by a range of organizations and entities—federal government agencies, state government agencies, academic institutions, coal mining companies, and equipment manufacturers. In general, the scope and motivation for research are determined by the relevance and potential impact of solutions to the problems that need to be responded to by the various entities and organizations (e.g., agencies with a primarily regulatory role support limited research focused on technical support for regulation; equipment manufacturers undertake materials research and market trends). Here, the committee focuses on existing support for research and development funding by the federal government across the coal fuel cycle, to set the context for recommendations contained in the following sections. For this report, the committee adopted a broad interpretation of R&D to include activities that are variously described by federal agencies as pure research, applied science, technical support, pilot-scale testing, demonstration projects, and applied engineering projects. Budgets were requested for the 1995, 2000, and 2005 fiscal years so that funding trends might be discerned. The data were analyzed by the committee, and the committee’s interpretations of the data were sent back to agency staff for confirmation. The committee categorized R&D budgets according to the different stages of the coal fuel cycle—resource and reserve assessment, coal mining and processing, coal mining safety and health, environmental protection and reclamation, transport of coal and coal-derived products (including electricity transmission), and coal utilization (including air emission and carbon sequestration research). More than $538 million was spent by federal government agencies for coal-related research and technology development in 2005 (see Table 7.2). The specific coal-related roles of these agencies are described in Appendix C, together with limited descriptions of past levels of federal R&D support. Table 7.2 shows that coal-related R&D support from most offices is focused on a single R&D

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy TABLE 7.2 Summary of Federal Agency Support for Coal-Related Research and Technology Development in 2005     Coal Mining and Processing         Resource and Reserve Assessment Productivity and Resource Optimization Safety and Health Environment and Reclamation Transport and Transmission Coal Utilization and CCS Total (dollars) Department of Energy               Energy Information Administration 15,000           15,000 Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy   734,000a 110,000       844,000 Office of Fossil Energy           442,204,000 442,204,000 Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability         48,470,000b   48,470,000 Environmental Protection Agency               Office of Research and Development       9,200,000c     9,200,000 Mine Safety and Health Administration     1,274,000c       1,274,000 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health     23,006,000       23,006,000 National Science Foundation 36,000 594,000 8,000 124,000 260,000 1,807,000 2,829,000 Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement               U.S. Geological Survey 9,700,000d           9,700,000 Total 9,751,000 1,328,000 24,398,000 9,924,000 48,730,000 444,011,000 538,142,000 NOTE: Numbers are rounded to nearest thousand. aOf the coal-related projects undertaken during the 8-year history of the Mining Industry of the Future program (1999-2006), 87% addressed mining and processing issues and 13% addressed safety and health issues. The funding for 2005 was distributed according to this ratio. bThis figure is derived by allocating 53% of OE’s R&D appropriation to coal-related activities; 53% of national electricity generation is supplied by coal-fired power plants. c2006 data. dThis number represents what was requested by the agency, rather than the actual dollars spent on coal-related research projects.

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy category. The basic research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) is a clear exception, providing relatively limited support that extends across all categories. The Department of Energy (DOE) supports more than 91 percent of all coal-related research and technology development, exceeding research support from all other agencies by a very wide margin (Figure 7.1). The distribution of R&D funding by category (Figure 7.2) shows that almost 92 percent of the federal agency funding is for downstream components of the coal fuel cycle, mostly coal utilization technology development and transmission research funded through DOE (Figure 7.1). Federal support for R&D activities related to all upstream aspects of the coal fuel cycle (i.e., mine worker safety and health, resource and reserve assessments, coal mining and processing, environmental protection and reclamation) accounted for less than 10 percent of the total federal investment in coal-related R&D. Federal funding in 2005 for individual components of upstream activities ranged from $24.4 million (4.5 percent) for mine worker safety and health R&D to $1.3 million (0.2 percent) for coal mining and processing R&D. Overall, federal government funding for regulatory and downstream components of the coal fuel cycle over the past decade has continued at a constant level or increased, while support for upstream R&D has decreased (Table 7.3; Appendix C). Since 1995, support for resource and reserve assessments (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] and DOE-EIA) has declined by nearly 30 percent, and support for health and safety R&D (predominantly by the National Institute FIGURE 7.1 Distribution of funding in 2005 for coal research, technology development, and resource assessment by federal government agency or office.

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy FIGURE 7.2 Distribution of federal government funding by category for coal research, technology development, and resource assessment in 2005. TABLE 7.3 Summary of Trend Data for Federal Agency Support for Coal-Related Research and Technology Development   Appropriation for 2005 Appropriation for 2000 and Comparison with 2005 Appropriation for 1995 and Comparison with 2005 Department of Energy           Energy Information Administration 15,000 17,000 −12% 64,000 −77% Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 844,000 1,065,000 −21% NA NA Office of Fossil Energy 442,204,000 326,543,000 +35% 355,556,000 +24% Environmental Protection Agency—Office of Research and development 9,200,000 9,800,000 −6% 8,600,000 +7% Mine Safety and Health Administration 1,274,000 1,435,000 −11% 1,416,000 −10% National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 23,006,000 20,818,000 +11% 54,283,000 −58% Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 600,000 284,000 +111% 256,000 +134% U.S. Geological Survey 9,700,000 12,476,000 −22% 13,580,000 −29% NOTES: Numbers are rounded to nearest thousand, all in constant 2005 dollars. NSF basic research awards, because they are distributed over a range of programs from different directorates, were not suitable for trend analysis.

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH] and the Mine Safety and Health Administration [MSHA]) has declined by 56 percent. During this same period, support for R&D related to downstream utilization (DOE-FE and EPA-ORD) has increased by 24 percent. IMPROVED COAL RESOURCE, RESERVE, AND QUALITY ASSESSMENTS Accurate and complete estimates of national reserves are needed to determine whether coal can continue to supply national electrical power needs and whether coal has the potential to replace other energy sources, such as petroleum, that may become less reliable or less secure. Two major questions are considered in Chapter 3 to assess existing estimates of the amount of usable coal: Are estimates of available coal reliable, and are they good enough to allow federal policy makers to formulate coherent national energy policies? Can coal reserves in the United States produce the 1.7 billion tons per year total of coal required in 2030 if the EIA reference case described in Chapter 2 becomes a reality? The two primary federal agencies that provide resource and reserve information are the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Department of the Interior. The EIA is responsible for maintaining Demonstrated Reserve Base (DRB) data (Box 3.1), the basis for assessing and reporting U.S. coal reserves. The USGS has responsibility for mapping and characterizing the nation’s coal resources, in cooperation with agencies that have land and resource management responsibilities (e.g., the Bureau of Land Management [BLM] and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement [OSM]) and agencies that use USGS resource projections (e.g., the EIA). Although most coal-producing states have geological surveys that collect data to categorize their coal resources, in most cases these organizations lack the personnel and funding for comprehensive coal resource and reserve investigations; most state coal resource investigations have been undertaken in cooperation with the USGS, BLM, or OSM. For this reason, they typically only evaluate the in-place tonnage and do not estimate recoverability—this has been largely left to the USGS and the EIA. Mining companies generate detailed reserve estimates for the coal they control or are interested in obtaining. Companies consider these data to be proprietary, and as a consequence they are rarely available for government resource and reserve studies except for the reserve estimates that have to be reported at operating mines. In assessing existing estimates of available coal and the data and methodologies used to derive these estimates, the committee came to the following conclusions:

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy The United States is endowed with a vast amount of coal. Despite significant uncertainties in generating reliable estimates of the nation’s coal resources and reserves, there are sufficient economically minable reserves to meet anticipated needs through 2030. Further into the future, there is probably sufficient coal to meet the nation’s needs for more than 100 years at current rates of consumption. However, it is not possible to confirm the often-quoted suggestion that there is a sufficient supply of coal for the next 250 years. A combination of increased rates of production with more detailed reserve analyses that take into account location, quality, recoverability, and transportation issues may substantially reduce the estimated number of years supply. Because there are no statistical measures to reflect the uncertainty of the nation’s estimated recoverable reserves, future policy will continue to be developed in the absence of accurate estimates until more detailed reserve analyses—which take into account the full suite of geographical, geological, economic, legal, and environmental characteristics—are completed. The DRB and the Estimated Recoverable Reserves (ERR), the most cited estimates of coal resources and reserves, are based upon methods for estimating resources and reserves that have not been reviewed or revised since their inception in 1974. Much of the input data for the DRB and ERR also date from the early 1970s. These methods and data are inadequate for informed decision making. New data collection, in conjunction with modern mapping and database technologies that have been proven to be effective in limited areas, could significantly improve the current system of determining the DRB and ERR. Coal quality is an important parameter that significantly affects the cost of coal mining, beneficiation, transportation, utilization, and waste disposal, as well as its sale value. Coal quality also has substantial impacts on the environment and human health. The USGS coal quality database is largely of only historic value because relatively few coal quality data have been generated in recent years. Recommendation: A coordinated federal-state-industry initiative to determine the magnitude and characteristics of the nation’s recoverable coal reserves, using modern mapping, coal characterization, and database technologies, should be instituted with the goal of providing policy makers with a comprehensive accounting of national coal reserves within 10 years. The U.S. Geological Survey already undertakes limited programs that apply modern methods to basin-scale coal reserve and quality assessments. The USGS also has the experience of working with states to develop modern protocols and standards for geological mapping at a national scale through its coordinating role in the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. The USGS should be funded to work with states, the coal industry, and other federal offices to quantify and characterize the nation’s coal reserves. The committee estimates that a

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy comprehensive accounting of national coal reserves would require additional funding of approximately $10 million per year. RESEARCH TO SUPPORT COAL MINING AND PROCESSING The transition of coal from resource to reserve requires that the coal is minable from both a technical and an economic standpoint, so resource assessment processes must be closely linked to mining processes. Research and development activities offer the potential to solve the range of challenges associated with the more difficult mining conditions of the future, thereby maximizing the nation’s coal reserves. Coal mining and processing involve a series of sequential operations: (1) exploration of a potentially economic coal seam to assess minable reserves, environmental issues, marketable reserves, potential markets, and permitting risks; (2) analysis and selection of a mining plan; (3) securing the markets; (4) developing the mine; (5) extracting the coal; (6) processing the coal if necessary; and (7) decommissioning the mine and releasing the property for future post mining uses. These activities, outlined in Chapter 4 (and amplified in Appendix E), result in a range of mining and processing challenges that in most cases already exist today, but are likely to become more pronounced in the mines of the future. As near-surface coal deposits are depleted, surface operations will mine deeper seams that require increased stripping ratios and multiple benches. Similarly, underground coal mines will have to access seams that are deeper, thinner, or thicker, generally with higher gas content and potentially more difficulties in control of the associated strata (i.e., ground control). In some cases, overlying seams will already have been mined or, to meet increased production, multiple seams may have to be mined simultaneously. These more difficult mining conditions will require improved methods to protect the health and safety of mine workers, to improve environmental management of mined lands and wastes, and to provide higher rates of resource recovery and mine productivity. Improved Mine Worker Health and Safety Factors that increase health and safety risks to the coal mining workforce include the introduction of new equipment and systems, commencement of mining in virgin areas, infusion of new workers, and the mining of multiple seams—seams that are thinner, thicker, or deeper than those customarily mined at present, and new seams that underlie or overlie previously mined-out seams. Additional risk factors that are likely to apply in the deeper mines of the future are the potential hazards related to methane control, dust control, ground control, ignition sources, fires, and explosions. All of these factors are likely to apply to some degree in future mines, irrespective of whether the higher production scenarios that are foreseen in some forecasts eventuate. If they do eventuate, these

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy risks are likely to become even more pronounced. The committee found that there are major knowledge gaps and technology needs in the areas of escape and survival, communications systems, and emergency preparedness and rescue. In addition, greater understanding and better prediction of strata control to prevent unanticipated roof collapse are essential for maintaining and improving worker safety. The funding context is that federal support for health and safety research significantly decreased about a decade ago, and has essentially remained constant since that time. Recommendation: Health and safety research and development should be expanded to anticipate increased hazards in future coal mines. These R&D efforts should emphasize improved methane control, improved mine ventilation, improved roof control, reduced repetitive and traumatic injuries, reduced respiratory diseases, improved escape and rescue procedures, improved communications systems, and research to reduce explosions and fires. This should be coupled with improved training of the mining workforce in all aspects of mine safety. R&D should also be directed toward lowering the exposure of mine workers to hazardous conditions, particularly through expanded use of remote sensing and the automation of mining operations. Most mining health and safety research by the federal government is carried out by the Mining Program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Technology-related activities within the Mine Safety and Health Administration are limited to technical support and training services for its personnel and those from the mining industry. With NIOSH carrying out the research needed to improve mine safety and support MSHA’s regulatory role, these two agencies play a vital role in coal mine health and safety. The committee estimates that the enhanced health and safety program proposed here will require annual R&D funding of approximately $60 million, and recommends that NIOSH continue as the lead agency with enhanced coordination with MSHA and industry. Improved Environmental Protection As mining extracts coal from deeper and operationally more difficult seams by both surface and underground methods, a range of existing environmental issues and concerns will be exacerbated, and new concerns—particularly related to greater disturbance of hydrologic systems, ground subsidence, and waste management at mines and preparation plants—are likely to arise. Inadequate understanding of post-mining strata behavior and the associated hydrologic consequences of mining in both surface and underground mines affects mine permitting, mine development, environmental mitigation, and post-mining land use, including use for waste management. Research offers considerable

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy potential to mitigate the effects of past mining practices, particularly acid mine drainage on abandoned mine lands. However, the regulatory environment and the technical support programs administered by both state and federal agencies, and implemented by mining companies through their compliance practices, are inadequately supported by existing research programs. Recommendation: Additional research is needed to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts associated with past, existing, and future coal mining and processing. Research activities should focus particularly on developing techniques to mitigate the alteration and collapse of strata overlying mined areas, to model the hydrological impacts of coal mining, to improve mine mapping and void detection, to improve the stability of spoils on steep slopes, and to improve the construction and monitoring of impoundments. Both the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, although primarily regulatory agencies, fund limited R&D activities in support of their missions. The committee estimates that annual funding of approximately $70 million will be required to conduct the research necessary to adequately respond to the environmental impacts of past, existing, and future mining operations. The committee recommends that OSM should be the lead agency in this effort, and it should coordinate closely with related EPA and state research activities. Improved Mine Productivity and Resource Optimization Although evolutionary developments in technology and mining practices (primarily underground longwall mining in the East and the growth of large surface operations in the West) have resulted in a two- to threefold increase in the productivity of U.S. coal mines since the mid-1970s, production and productivity increases in recent years have been small or nonexistent as mining companies and equipment manufacturers made only incremental improvements. Over the past decade, there has been little R&D directed toward truly advanced mining technologies and at present, only 0.2 percent of total federal coal-related R&D funding is directed toward development of the advanced mining technologies and practices that are necessary to optimize utilization of the nation’s coal resource. Small percentage increases in coal recovery through improved mining and coal preparation processes have the potential to significantly expand economically recoverable reserves of both eastern and western coals. The development of these technologies, increasingly needed as coal reserve quality decreases over time, will help to maximize utilization of the nation’s coal resource. The global transfer of coal mining and processing technology within the industry is facilitated by international equipment manufacturers, who work closely

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy with suppliers and the larger mining clients on evolutionary product developments. However, there is little evidence of the efficient transfer of technologies from outside the mining industry. This is at least partly due to the relatively small market that the coal mining industry represents to potential technology suppliers and the scarcity of coal mining research at academic institutions and national laboratories. Recommendation: There should be renewed support for advanced coal mining and processing research and development to optimize use of the nation’s coal resources by increasing the amount of coal that is economically minable through technological advances that accommodate health, safety, and environmental requirements. The focus of this R&D should be on increased integration of modern technology in the extraction and processing phases of coal production, with particular emphasis on emerging advances in materials, sensors, and controls; monitoring; and automated mining systems. Research to develop advanced mining technologies requires not only cooperation among relevant federal agencies, but also participation by academic institutions, as well as funding, guidance, and technology transfer by industry. The committee estimates that advanced coal mining and processing R&D will require approximately $60 million per year and recommends that this funding be comprised of $30 million in federal support, with cost sharing from non-federal sources. The DOE Office of Fossil Energy should be the lead federal agency, and should coordinate with NSF, OSM, NIOSH, academic institutions, and the coal industry to ensure that all research activities carefully consider the environmental, reclamation, and health and safety aspects of coal mining. TRANSPORT OF COAL AND COAL PRODUCTS With the electric power sector accounting for more than 90 percent of U.S. coal use, transportation of coal to the more than 600 coal-burning power plant sites in the nation is especially important. Of these plants, rail transportation serves approximately 58 percent, waterborne transportation serves 17 percent, trucks serve 10 percent, 12 percent are served by multiple modes of transportation (primarily rail and barge), and 3 percent are minemouth plants with conveyor systems. In 2004, more than 85 percent of coal shipments were delivered to consumers by either rail (684 million tons), truck (129 million tons), or water (98 million tons). One-third of all coal delivered to power plants is subject to at least one transloading along the transportation chain. Growth in the use of coal depends on having sufficient capacity to deliver increasing amounts of coal reliably and at reasonable prices to an end user. The capacity, reliability, and price of rail transportation—the dominant mode of coal

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy transport—depend largely on the supply and demand for rail transportation, as well as on prevailing business practices, the investment climate, and the nature of regulatory oversight of the railroad industry. The capacity, reliability, and price of rail transportation of coal depend to a far lesser degree upon research and development. Reliable and sufficient waterborne transportation—the second most prevalent method of coal transport—depends on the construction and maintenance of waterway infrastructures, especially lock-and-dam infrastructure and port capacity. Much of the nation’s coal-fired electric generating capacity is located at some distance from the urbanized areas that have the largest and most concentrated demands for electricity. Projections of higher coal use depend on sufficient capacity to transmit electricity from coal-based power plants to such areas reliably and at a reasonable cost. Conversely, the projected increases in coal use will diminish if these high-demand areas satisfy much of their growing demand for electricity not by expanding their ability to import electricity from other regions, but by a combination of energy efficiency, demand response, and local electric generation from sources other than coal. The coal transportation and electric transmission systems are large and complex networks in which localized disruptions can have severe and widespread impacts. Weather and other natural phenomena, as well as societal factors such as sabotage and terrorism, impose a range of risks on these systems. These characteristics make it difficult to guarantee that there will be sufficient capacity to transport coal or coal-based energy (primarily electricity) reliably and cost-effectively to the various end users, particularly in light of scenarios that predict substantially increased coal use. Research is needed to better understand the factors that control these large and complex networks to minimize the risks of cascading system disruptions. RESEARCH TO SUPPORT COAL UTILIZATION Although the committee’s task was broad and encompassed the entire coal fuel cycle, the congressional framers of this study requested that it focus primarily on the upstream aspects of the coal fuel cycle. Accordingly, only a brief overview of coal use technologies and related issues is presented in Chapter 6, with greater emphasis on describing the factors associated with coal use that are likely to impose constraints on future demands for coal. The analysis presented in Chapter 2 indicates overwhelmingly that the environmental impacts of coal use—especially carbon dioxide emissions associated with global climate change—pose the greatest potential constraint on future coal utilization. The committee found the following: Potential regulatory requirements to further reduce emissions of NOx, SO2, mercury, and particulate matter in the future are not expected to significantly

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy limit the overall use of coal in the next several decades. However, future emission control requirements for these regulated air pollutants could result in changed preferences for particular types of coal, depending on the nature of future regulations. Decisions to invest or not invest in coal-based power plants will strongly influence future coal use, and will depend in large part on the timing and magnitude of any future constraints on CO2 emissions. Large-scale demonstrations of carbon management technologies—especially carbon capture and sequestration—are needed to prove the commercial readiness of technologies to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants and other energy conversion processes. Detailed assessments are needed to identify and characterize geological formations in the United States that are potentially capable of sequestering large quantities of CO2; to quantify their storage capacities; to assess migration and leakage rates; and to understand the economic, legal, and environmental impacts of storage on both near-term and long-term time scales. Such geologic sequestration sites should be considered “resources,” and categorized and described in the same way that conventional mineral or energy resources are assessed. Recommendation: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) should play a lead role in identifying, characterizing, and cataloguing the CO2 sequestration capacity of potential geologic sequestration resources. The USGS has expertise in coordinating nationwide assessments of oil and gas, minerals, and coal, and a history of developing consensus in resource and reserve terminology. It would be appropriate for the USGS to have the same lead role in an assessment of the nation’s geologic carbon sequestration resource that it currently has with regards to coal and petroleum resources. The committee estimates that approximately $10 million per year for five years will be required for this activity. There should be close cooperation and coordination among the USGS, the Carbon Sequestration Program managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, and the states involved in the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships. COORDINATION OF COAL-RELATED R&D BY FEDERAL AGENCIES One component of this study was the specific requirement for the committee to evaluate whether a broad-based, coordinated, multiagency coal research and development program is required and, if so, to examine options for supporting and implementing such a program (see Box 1.1). To respond to this aspect of its charge, the committee carefully considered existing R&D programs and assessed the extent of—and opportunities for—coordination of coal-related research among the agencies, in the context of current federal funding across the coal fuel cycle

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy (Table 7.2). Programmatic models for R&D support that were considered by the committee included the Australian Cooperative Research Center for Mining (CRCMining) and the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) (see Box 4.3), the DOE-EERE Mining Industry of the Future program, as well as the existing coal-related research programs in federal agencies. The committee also considered coal-related R&D support provided by states, the coal industry, and equipment manufacturers but did not attempt an exhaustive compilation of these non-federal activities. There are numerous applied research areas, primarily focused on incremental technology development, for which federal involvement is neither appropriate nor required and where the coal production industry should and does provide support. For some areas, such as ensuring that a well-trained workforce is available to meet the nation’s mining and mining education requirements, federal involvement can effectively complement industry activities. There are other areas of coal-related R&D where the federal government has a primary role—for example, to establish the quantity and quality of the nation’s coal reserves, to facilitate and catalyze revolutionary (rather than incremental) technology development, to safeguard the health and safety of mine workers, and to protect the environment during future mining and processing and mitigate existing environmental problems arising from past mining practices. It is also a federal responsibility to provide funding for the R&D required to support the government’s regulatory role. In considering options for R&D support, it is clear that the responsibilities and capabilities of the relevant federal agencies span a wide range. MSHA and OSM are regulatory agencies with, particularly in the case of MSHA, limited statutory authorization to conduct R&D. NIOSH and DOE-FE have well-established R&D facilities and programs, but with distinctly different missions and responsibilities. EPA has both regulatory and R&D functions, and NSF is focused solely on basic research. USGS and EIA have primarily research roles, with information-gathering and dissemination responsibilities that are quite dissimilar to those of other agencies. When considering research activities in agencies that primarily have regulatory roles, there is also the potential for reluctance by industry to reveal problems that might be appropriate targets for research solution to offices that might penalize them for having the problem. As an additional complication, these various agencies and offices are administered under a number of departments and their funding is controlled by different congressional committees. The committee considered the recent and past history of coal-related R&D resulting from interagency cooperation (e.g., NIOSH and MSHA, USGS and OSM, USGS and EIA), as well as the R&D produced by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) (see NTIS, 2007), with its overarching mandate, prior to its demise in 1994. After considering the diverse missions and programmatic activities of the relevant agencies, the committee concluded that an attempt to consolidate all coal-related R&D into a single broad-based agency or office would

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy be impractical at best, and would be unlikely to provide the optimum basis for a national strategy for coal R&D and resource assessments. Ultimately, the committee considered that encouraging considerably increased interagency cooperation would be more likely to achieve the goal of improved delivery of R&D to support the nation’s use of its coal resource. The choice of which model for R&D support to apply is likely to differ across agencies, with the Australian CRCMining, DOE-EERE Mining IOF program, or DOE-FE Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships all constituting successful models. Whatever approach an agency takes in fulfilling its R&D mission, it should make explicit provision for a high degree of accountability to ensure that the research activities are relevant to real-world needs and opportunities and are delivering their promised outcomes. This accountability process should include the publication of performance metrics as well as periodic independent external peer reviews. Programs that provide funding for extramural research that leverage government funding with non-federal dollars provide a high level of accountability. A key feature of the performance review process should be an assessment of the degree to which the agency is cooperating with other agencies as recommended in this report. In summary, the committee found the following: Improved interagency cooperation and coordination of many aspects of coal-related R&D will be required to effectively respond to the full spectrum of health and safety, environmental, resource recovery, and manpower issues. Coordination should acknowledge the differing responsibilities and ranges of expertise of the individual agencies. Many coal-related R&D issues cut across state and regional boundaries, and a coordinated national approach—led by federal agencies and involving the states, mining companies, and universities—provides the highest likelihood of successful and effective outcomes. The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership’s program, administered by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, provides a model for coordinated R&D involving federal and state government agencies, industry, and national laboratories. The committee does not recommend a single “mega-agency” approach as the basis for coordinated coal-related R&D. Instead, the committee has identified areas where improved interagency coordination to address specific R&D opportunities and challenges could be better implemented through cooperation among two or more federal entities in R&D partnerships, with involvement of non-federal bodies as appropriate. These aspects are presented in more detail above, and summarized here together with estimates for the additional funding that will be required to support these partnerships1 (Table 7.4). 1 Rather than make recommendations concerning the distribution of recommended funding between the participants in these partnerships, the committee recognized that this would occur as part of the congressional appropriations process.

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy TABLE 7.4 Summary of FY 2005 and Proposed Additional Funding for Coal-Related R&D at Federal Agencies (millions of dollars per year)   FY 2005 Funding Proposed New Funding Total Proposed Funding Resource and reserve assessments and characterizationa 10 20 30 Improved mine worker health and safetyb 25 35 60 Environmental protection and reclamationb 10 60 70 Improved mining productivity and resource optimizationb 1 29 30 Total 46 144 190 NOTE: FY 2005 figures are rounded to nearest million for easier comparison with proposed funding levels (unrounded figures for FY 2005 funding are presented in Table 7.2) aDescribed in Chapters 3 and 6. Amounts do not include funding for the DOE-FE Carbon Sequestration Program, which supports a range of sequestration research and demonstration activities that include geologic sequestration site characterizations. bDescribed in Chapter 4. The USGS should lead a program, in cooperation with state agencies, the coal industry, and other federal offices, to quantify and characterize the nation’s coal reserves. The committee estimates that this will require additional funding of approximately $10 million per year. NIOSH should lead an expanded health and safety program, in cooperation with MSHA and the coal industry, to address a range of specific mine safety issues (e.g., ventilation, roof control, escape and rescue, communications systems, training) and to develop improved remote sensing and automation technologies. The committee estimates that this will require additional funding of approximately $35 million per year. OSM should lead an expanded program, in cooperation with EPA, state agencies, and the coal industry, to mitigate adverse environmental impacts associated with past, existing, and future coal mining and processing. The committee estimates that this will require additional funding of approximately $60 million per year. The DOE Office of Fossil Energy should lead a program, in cooperation with NSF, OSM, NIOSH, academic institutions, and the coal industry, to develop and demonstrate advanced coal mining and processing technology. The committee estimates that this will require a total of approximately $60 million per year and recommends that this should comprise $30 million in federal support, with cost sharing from non-federal sources. The USGS should lead a program to identify and characterize the nation’s potential CO2 geologic sequestration resources, with close collaboration with the Carbon Sequestration Program managed by DOE-FE, and the states involved in

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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships. The committee estimates that this new program will require funding of approximately $10 million per year. Coal will continue to provide a major portion of energy requirements in the United States for at least the next several decades, and it is imperative that policy makers are provided with accurate information describing the amount, location, and quality of the coal resources and reserves that will be available to fulfill these energy needs. It is also important that we extract our coal resources efficiently, safely, and in an environmentally responsible manner. A renewed focus on federal support for coal-related research, coordinated across agencies and with the active participation of the states and the industrial sector, is a critical element for each of these requirements.