Mining Industry Says 'Clean Coal' is Top Priority

Jan. 15, 2003
Hoping to capitalize on growing interest in Washington for a new national energy policy, the leaders of the National Mining Association (NMA) will make increased Congressional support for clean coal technology their top legislative priority this year.

"Our goal and strategy is to pursue a 'zero-emissions' facility policy," said Jack Gerard, president of the NMA, at a Jan. 13 press briefing in Washington, DC. He pointed out that at a time when the availability and reliability of petroleum resources are in question, the U.S. has a 250-year supply of coal.

"Coal should be the cornerstone of U.S. energy policy," Gerard asserted.

Development of a national mineral policy is a second priority identified by Gerard, who said there has been a seven-fold increase in the value of minerals imported into the U.S. since 1993.

On the regulatory front, Harold Quinn, NMA's general counsel, said the association is still reviewing the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) regulatory agenda, which was released in December.

In that agenda, MSHA stated that while respirable coal dust levels have been cut significantly over the years, some miners continue to develop coal workers' pneumoconiosis. To address this issue, MSHA intends to reopen the record for rulemaking on the "Determination of Concentration of Respirable Coal Mine Dust" and re-propose "Verification of Underground Coal Mine Operators' Dust Control Plans." The former rule would permit MSHA to determine the level of mine dust on the basis of a single sample; the latter rule would help assure that operators' dust control plans are effective.

According to recently released MSHA data, there was a record-low 67 fatal injuries in the U.S. mining industry last year, while the days lost incidence rate for non-fatal injuries also continued to decline.

"Reforming" or changing the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) is another issue NMA is exploring. "Industry has paid $6 billion into the fund," complained Quinn, "but only $1.7 billion has been spent on high priority projects that threaten the health, safety and environment of the surrounding communities."

Congress has already appropriated $2 billion over 10 years to support "clean coal" technology. Gerard said this is "seed money" used to support the development of the technology.

In addition to this, NMA is asking for more tax incentives to encourage utilities to deploy these new clean coal technologies. Last year the House approved $3.3 billion in such incentives, later reduced by the Senate to $1.9 billion.

"Our challenge is these first-time prototypes of new technologies are very expensive," said Gerard. "So what we're trying to do is provide the incentives necessary to get the private sector to take that risk and deploy the technology."

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!