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Coal Research and Development: to Support National Energy Policy
and safety practices, such as generalized rock dusting, permissible explosives, explosion and fire control measures, improved mine rescue procedures, methane control and drainage, noise control, human factors, and electrical safety.
In 1960, the Office of Coal Research was separated from USBM and charged to develop new and more efficient methods of mining, processing, and utilizing coal. The program was transferred to the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) in 1974, and it eventually became incorporated in the Department of Energy (DOE) where today it forms part of the Office of Fossil Energy.
The impact of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 on coal mine design and operations continues to this day. It mandated health and safety standards for coal mines and directed USBM to conduct the research necessary to eliminate coal mine health and safety hazards. This legislation also directed that mining health research be conducted in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Following closure of the USBM in 1995 and the eventual transfer of health and safety research to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1997, the NIOSH Mining Program became the principal focus for mining health and safety research. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to focus on health research. The mining industry regulatory functions of the USBM were separated from its mining research functions in 1973. Under the 1977 Mine Health and Safety Act, these functions were entirely transferred to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the Department of Labor.
With passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) was created in the Department of the Interior. SMCRA specified the planning and design requirements for mining from both health and safety and environmental perspectives. It also required mining companies to submit plans and designs for approval and provided agencies with the power to monitor and inspect mines for compliance purposes. Finally, it established research and training centers in the states dealing with various aspects of mineral production. The centers were very active in OSM’s first decade, supporting mineral education and creating state mining research institutes.
CURRENT FEDERAL AGENCIES SUPPORTING COAL-RELATEDRESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
More than $538 million was allocated by U.S. government agencies for coal-related research and technology development in 2005 (see Table 7.2). For this report, funding estimates were compiled through an interactive process between the committee and agency staff. First, the committee requested budgets for coal research and development (R&D), and based on responses from the agencies, the committee chose to include activities that were variously described as pure