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CREATING NATIONAL COAL MINING GEOSPATIAL DATA STANDARDS

Bill Card1 L. Keith Evans, Len Meyer

Abstract.  Recent history has demonstrated a regrettable, sometimes fatal relationship between mining related disasters and continued use of poor quality paper-based mapping information.  Movement from paper to digital geospatial data describing past, present, and proposed coal mining operations will provide significant benefits to government agencies, business interests, and the public when planning land use activities in the northern and southern West Virginia coal fields.  Benefits include improved regulation of active coal mining operations, more successful reclamation of abandoned mine lands, better public policy at local, state, and national levels, and potentially saving lives during mining related emergencies.  In September 2005, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) established the National Coal Mining Geospatial Committee (NCMGC) to promote the use of geospatial technology for implementing the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA).  The NCMGC is supported by OSM’s Technical Innovation and Professional Services (TIPS) program and operates as a partnership between OSM and the states.  Committee members represent the geospatial technology interests of the states, tribes, and OSM offices.  SMCRA organizations with representation in the NCMGC include the Interstate Mining Compact Commission (IMCC), National Association of Abandoned Mine Lands Programs (NAAMLP), and the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB).  In June 2006, the NCMGC hosted the first National Meeting of SMCRA Geospatial Data Stewards in Denver, CO.  Each steward is designated by each his or her state/tribe regulatory and/or AML program to represent their geospatial technology interests and provide national coordination.  Meeting accomplishments included identifying local needs for advancing the use of geospatial data; identifying goals within organizations to obtain and use geospatial data; and identifying NCMGC activities at a national level to advance the use of geospatial technology in SMCRA organizations.  The stewards approved a recommendation from NCMGC to develop the first two national coal mining data layers:  surface coal mining boundaries and underground coal mining boundaries.  The stewards also approved the formation of a work group, the Coal Mining Spatial Data Standards ASTM Task Group, to develop voluntary standards for the initial two layers.  Paralleling development of the first two data standards in time, the NCMGC began work on a coal mining spatial data infrastructure to manage selected coal mining datasets shared by each participating state/tribe.  This infrastructure will assemble these data into national datasets for use in SMCRA business processes and distribution to the nation.

Additional Key Words:  landuse, coal mining, surface coal mining, underground coal mining, spatial data, mining fatality

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1Bill Card is GIS Coordinator at U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining in Knoxville, TN, 37902.  L. Keith Evans is the Manager of TAGIS Unit, Information Technology Office at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in Charleston, WV, 25703.  Len Meier is Chief of Program and Technology Support Branch, U.S Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining in Alton, IL, 37902.

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