Federal Support for Coal Research
This appendix presents a brief overview of federal agency coal-related research programs and legislation and the current levels of federal agency support for coal-related research and technology development throughout the coal life cycle, including funding trends over the last 5 to 10 years. Unless otherwise noted, all funding data are presented in terms of 2005 dollars.1
FEDERAL AGENCY COAL-RELATED RESEARCH PROGRAMS AND LEGISLATION
One of the earliest federal agencies to become involved in mining research was the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which, under congressional authorization, commenced a minerals information collection activity in 1882. However, the history of federally funded mining research in the United States is to a large extent tied to the creation of the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) in the Department of the Interior by the Organic Act of 1910. As a result of subsequent congressional actions, the role of USBM extended to health and safety in mines, testing of fuels, and technical processes of production and use. Enactment of the Leasing Act in 1920 resulted in USBM becoming responsible for supervising mining operations on public lands. The Coal Mine Inspection Act of 1941 authorized USBM to enter and inspect mines and recommend corrective actions. Although portions of the USBM were transferred to other agencies at various times, the principal focus for mining research, related to health, safety, and productivity, remained with USBM. The USBM has been credited with speeding up the introduction of many health
All figures are adjusted using the inflation calculator at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl.
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-RELATED RESEARCH 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
research, applied science, pilot-scale testing, technical support, applied engineering projects, and demonstration projects. Funding estimates 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 before being included in this analysis.
Department of Energy (DOE)
The Energy Information Administration2 (EIA), created in 1977, is a policy-independent statistical agency within DOE. It provides data, forecasts, and analyses to support energy policy and public understanding of energy trends. By mandate, EIA neither formulates nor advocates any particular policy conclusions. EIA tracks coal prices, production, reserves, distribution, consumption, stocks, imports, and exports nationally and internationally, and issues a broad range of weekly, monthly, and annual reports on energy production, stocks, demand, imports, exports, and prices. It also prepares analyses and special reports on topics of current interest that are widely used by federal and state agencies, industry, media, researchers, consumers, and educators. In 2005, EIA received only 0.07 percent of overall federal coal R&D funding. EIA’s coal-related budget, in constant 2005 dollars, decreased by 77 percent between 1995 and 2005.
The Office of Fossil Energy3 (FE) has the primary mission to ensure that the country continues to rely on clean, affordable energy from traditional fuel resources, including coal. FE is responsible for implementing two major coal-related research programs, the 10-year, $2 billion Clean Coal Power Initiative to develop a new generation of environmentally benign clean coal technologies, and the FutureGen Initiative, a $950 million coal-fueled prototype plant that will coproduce electricity and hydrogen while minimizing the release of air pollutants and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Other coal R&D programs include pollution control innovations for traditional power plants (including mercury reduction), improved gasification technologies, advanced combustion systems, development of stationary power fuel cells, improved turbines for future coal-based combined cycle plants, and the creation of a portfolio of technologies that can capture and permanently store greenhouse gases. Most FE coal-related research is administered by the National Energy Technology Laboratory4 (NETL), which has a focus on creating commercially viable solutions to national energy and environmental problems. In addition to research conducted on-site, NETL’s project portfolio includes R&D conducted through partnerships, cooperative research and development agreements, financial assistance, and contractual
arrangements with other national laboratories, academic institutions, and the private sector. Of all the federal agencies carrying out coal R&D in 2005, DOE-FE (including NETL) had by far the largest budget, 82 percent of the total. FE research predominantly addresses coal utilization issues, with an allocation for carbon sequestration research that has increased rapidly over the past six years. The FE budget for coal R&D, in constant 2005 dollars, increased by almost 25 percent between 1995 and 2005.
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy5 (DOE-EERE), through its Industrial Technologies Program, funded the Mining Industry of the Future initiative to support engineering and technology development designed to improve the energy efficiency, resource utilization, and competitiveness of the mining industry. Although this program was not focused solely on coal mining and processing, many of the program outputs were applicable to these phases of the coal fuel cycle. Program budgets increased from 1999 to 2003 but have decreased since 2004, and new funding for this program has now been terminated as the program is closed out. For this analysis, only the coal-specific elements have been included and the cross-cutting components have not been considered. In 2005, this program made up less than 2 percent of federal coal R&D. Of the coal-related projects undertaken during the eight-year history of the program, 87 percent addressed mining and processing issues and 13 percent responded to safety and health issues; funding for 2005 was distributed according to this ratio.
The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability6 (DOE-OE) was created in 2003 to “lead national efforts to modernize the electric grid, enhance security and reliability of the energy infrastructure and facilitate recovery from interruptions in energy supply.” The two major R&D programs funded by OE are high-temperature superconductivity, focused on developing pre-commercial prototypes of electric power equipment, and transmission reliability, focused on deployment of real-time monitoring capabilities. Because it is not possible to divide OE R&D budgets into coal-related and other electricity delivery components, the OE R&D appropriations were divided according to the proportion (53 percent) of national electricity generation supplied by coal-fired power plants. On this basis, OE supported 9 percent of federal coal-related R&D funding in 2005.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health7 was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the OSH Act) to
prevent work-related illness, injury, disability, and death by gathering information, conducting scientific research, and translating the knowledge gained into products and services. Focusing on high-risk sectors such as mining, NIOSH performs basic research and field research studies on worker safety and health, develops recommendations for occupational safety and health standards, conducts on-site investigations to determine the toxicity of materials used in workplaces, identifies engineering controls for existing equipment, conducts training and employee education, and funds research by other agencies or private organizations through grants, contracts, and other arrangements (NRC, 2007b). The Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act of 1977 delegated additional authority to NIOSH for coal mine health research, including the development of recommendations for mine health standards to be regulated by MSHA, administering a medical surveillance program for miners, conducting on-site investigations in mines similar to those authorized for general industry under the OSH Act, and testing and certifying personal protective equipment and hazard measurement instruments. In 2005, NIOSH research support for coal mining safety and health amounted to approximately 4 percent of all federal coal R&D. In constant 2005 dollars, the NIOSH coal R&D budget has increased slightly (11 percent) over the past five years. However, when compared with the USBM coal mine safety and health program, the NIOSH coal R&D funding in 2005 was only 42 percent of USBM funding in 1994 (the last full year of USBM funding).
Department of the Interior (DOI)
The Bureau of Land Management8 (BLM) is responsible for resource management and conservation for vast areas of public lands, primarily in the western United States. BLM sells leases for a significant proportion of the nation’s coal mines, with royalty and bonus bid income of more than $1.2 billion in FY 2005. BLM does not undertake coal-related R&D activities itself, but works with other agencies (e.g., OSM, USGS) to address issues that require R&D.
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement9 (OSM) has a primarily regulatory role stipulated by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. OSM’s main coal-related objectives are to ensure that coal mines are operated in a manner that protects citizens and the environment to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use following mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by pursuing reclamation of abandoned mines. This is accomplished by providing direct technical assistance to deal with specific mining and reclamation problems, maintaining automated systems, providing tools, and transferring technical capabilities through training, consultation, forums, and conferences. In the past, OSM addressed problems related to reclamation projects and regulatory
implementation through cooperative research efforts with other bureaus. OSM now undertakes a small amount of coal-related research itself, focused primarily on reclamation, in support of its regulatory role. There was a significant increase in OSM’s coal R&D budget between 1995 and 2005, by more than 130 percent in constant 2005 dollars, but this research still comprised only 0.1 percent of the total federal coal R&D budget in 2005. Since 2005, OSM’s R&D funding has increased even more dramatically—from $0.6 million in 2005 to $1.4 million in 2006—primarily to provide increased support for the applied science and underground mine mapping programs.
United States Geological Survey10 (USGS) coal research activities, within its Energy Resources Program, focus primarily on assessments of resources and reserves. Additional efforts focus on compilation of coal quality information and research on the environmental and human health impacts of coal extraction and combustion. The USGS coal program accounts for almost 2 percent of total federal coal R&D funding. Between 1995 and 2005, the USGS coal R&D budget gradually decreased by 29 percent as inflation eroded essentially flat budget allocations.
Department of Labor (DOL)
The Mine Safety and Health Administration11 (MSHA) administers the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents, reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents, minimize health hazards, and promote improved safety and health conditions in the nation’s mines. MSHA provides technical support and training services to its personnel and to personnel from the mining industry through its Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center and the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. Because it is primarily a regulatory agency, MSHA’s involvement in coal mine research is mostly as a “customer” for NIOSH research activities. However, it does undertake field investigations, laboratory studies, and cooperative research activities related to health and safety issues, and evaluates new equipment and materials for use in mines. MSHA also supports state miner training activities through its states-grant program, and it works collaboratively through partnerships and coordinated research to ensure that mining technology, practices, and controls are developed and implemented to protect miner health or safety. The committee estimated that 5 percent of the MSHA technical support funding, almost $1.3 million in 2006, could be considered coal mining safety and health research. This amounted to almost 0.25 percent of the total federal coal R&D for
that year. MSHA’s coal-related R&D budget, in constant 2005 dollars, decreased by almost 13 percent between 1995 and 2006.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Office of Research and Development12 (EPA-ORD) supports limited research, both internally and through extramural funding, to support the EPA’s primarily regulatory role to implement federal laws designed to protect human health and the environment. The environmental problems associated with active and abandoned mines, particularly land reclamation, water quality maintenance, and the proper handling and disposal of the spoils and wastes from mining operations (e.g., mountain top coal mining, coal combustion residues), are the focus of EPA attention. EPA funds almost 2 percent of the total federal coal R&D, with most research focused on utilization issues (e.g., mercury and other emissions). EPA’s coal-related R&D budget, in constant 2005 dollars, remained approximately constant between 1995 and 2006.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
The National Science Foundation13 (NSF) provides funding for fundamental research across all areas of science and engineering. Funding for coal-related research is distributed across NSF directorates and program areas; consequently there was no single contact point for information concerning coal-related activities. The committee determined NSF’s budget by searching NSF’s online listing of grants awarded between 1995 and 2005 for references to coal. Approximately 525 grants were reviewed as a result of the online search, and 30 were identified as falling within the purview of the committee. These were primarily in the areas of coal utilization (64 percent) and mining and processing (21 percent). Because almost all were multiyear grants, the total annual award amount was calculated assuming uniform funding throughout the life of each grant. Consequently, it was not feasible to determine trend data. NSF’s coal-related awards make up a little more than 0.5 percent of the total federal coal R&D budget.