Incorporating Sustainable Development Principles into Coal Mine Design: Regulatory and Policy Barriers in the United States

By John R. Craynon, Emily Sarver and Michael Karmis.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Traditional engineering design of coal mining operations does not consider the environmental and social aspects of sustainable development. Previous work has shown that optimum coal mining designs incorporating sustainability can be developed using a systems engineering approach, geographic information systems, and optimized models of desired outcomes. The regulatory environment in the United States, however, does not allow for such a reasoned approach, due to statutes and regulations that focus on a singular environmental media, overly-constrained outcomes, and conflicting approaches. Though the legal framework allows for the consideration of public input, it is simply not designed to encourage a public ecology approach to mine design, which would ensure that the proper outcomes of a mining operation could be optimized to meet economic, environmental and social needs. Recommendations will be offered for a redesign of the regulatory structure and for policies which would allow the adoption of the more innovative and holistic approaches previously suggested.

Keywords: Coal Mining, Sustainable Development, Coal Mine Design, Optimized Mine Design, Regulatory Barriers, Sustainability

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.57-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 306.259KB).

Dr. John R. Craynon

ARIES Project Director, Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Mr. Craynon became the Project Director for Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Sciences (ARIES) program at the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech in March 2011. His previous career in the U.S. federal government, which spanned 28 years, focused on mining and the environment and the universe of technical, legal, and public policy issues related to mining. His work related to diverse topics such as coal mining, mine waste management, cleanup of contaminated sites, coal combustion byproducts, underground mine mapping, acid mine drainage, subsidence, hydrology, stream restoration, reforestation, sustainable reclamation and invasive species issues. John has both Bachelor of Science in Mining and Minerals Engineering and Master of Science in Mining and Minerals Engineering degrees from Virginia Tech. Mr. Craynon completed a Graduate Certificate in Natural Resources Management at Virginia Tech in 2011. He is also completing a PhD in Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech, anticipated during 2011. He is a Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a member of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American Society for Mining and Reclamation, and the International Mine Water Association.

Dr. Emily Sarver

Assistant Professor, Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Dr. Michael Karmis

Stonie Barker Professor of Mining Engineering and Director, Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA