and practices has progressively declined since the closure of the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) in 1995 and is now essentially eliminated (see Appendix C).

Engineering and Technology Development. The now-defunct Mining Industry of the Future (IOF) program, administered by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, supported engineering and technology development with a focus on improving the energy efficiency, resource utilization, and competitiveness of the mining industry. Although not exclusively focused on extraction or on coal mining, many of the program outputs were applicable to the extraction phase of the coal fuel cycle. At present, coal extraction receives no support from the DOE-Office of Fossil Energy (FE) Coal R&D program, which is focused primarily on utilization aspects (see Chapter 6).

Relatively little is being done by the federal government to address coal preparation issues. The Mining IOF program funded some work that was relevant to minerals separation (as part of a much broader program and not exclusively coal related), but new funding for this program (never more than $5 million per year) has been terminated and the program is being closed out. DOE-FE had a solid fuels program, although it tended to fund more advanced work—such as chemical coal cleaning—than processes related to conventional coal preparation. However, there has been no administration request for funding for this area in recent years, and the program is essentially defunct. Some research programs addressing a variety of mineral separation issues (i.e., not exclusive to coal) have been funded at the federal level through small direct congressional appropriations.

There is a low level of support for fundamental research in the earth sciences and engineering disciplines (geosciences, material sciences, rock mechanics, etc.) by the National Science Foundation that has potential applications in the development of improved technologies for the coal industry.

Health and Safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program is the principal focus for mining health and safety research (NRC, 2007b), consolidated at the Pittsburgh and Spokane research centers. The NIOSH Mining Program has seven areas of health and safety research activity, addressing respiratory diseases, hearing loss, cumulative musculoskeletal injuries, traumatic injuries, disaster prevention, rock safety engineering, and surveillance and training. NIOSH and MSHA appear to work closely together to prioritize health and safety research, with NIOSH carrying out the R&D in response to the regulatory environment established by MSHA. The 2005 NIOSH budget for mine health and safety research ($30 million) represents a decrease of approximately $12 million in nominal dollars for health and safety research compared to 1994-1995 funding.

Reclamation and Rehabilitation of Abandoned Mined Lands. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement was established in the Department of the Interior in 1977 following passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA), with the primary role of regulating surface



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement