(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