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CREATING NATIONAL COAL MINING GEOSPATIAL - page 12 / 14

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These national datasets may consist of coal mining features such as surface coal mining boundaries, underground coal mining boundaries, coal haul roads, critical earth fill structures, sediment basins, geologic drill holes, surface- and groundwater monitoring locations, and other coal mining features determined to be of national interest.  Sharing and using these datasets nationally provides access to valuable natural resource information otherwise stored in paper files within the various SRA program offices and subject to future loss.  OSM intends to make these national coal mining spatial datasets available to the public through Internet mapping services, registration with Geospatial One Stop (GOS), publication on the National Map, and other media as appropriate.

Benefits to the Nation

Digital geospatial data describing past, present, and proposed coal mining operations can provide significant benefits to government agencies, business interests, and the public when planning land use activities in coal-bearing areas of the nation.  These benefits will include improved regulation of active coal mining operations, more successful reclamation of abandoned mine lands, and better public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Improved Regulation of Active Coal Mining Operations

Aggregation of SRA coal mining spatial datasets into a small collection of coal mining spatial data themes of national significance provides an opportunity for OSM to use these new data sources to better understand and more efficiently work with individual SRA’s on issues of local importance.  For the first time, OSM will have near real-time access to coal mining spatial data accurately describing location, boundaries, spatial extent, and important attributes of significant coal mining features of all coal mining operations in the United States.  These data can be used to enhance OSM’s administrative capabilities by being able to locate, identify, and conduct reviews of permitted coal mining operations.  Information products derived from this data can be used to help determine and verify on a state, regional, or national basis acres under permit and acres reclaimed in various phases of bond release: support or replace current methods of obtaining information for OSM’s Annual Report; and answer other “state of the land regarding SMCRA” questions in near real-time.

Creation and use of national coal mining spatial datasets by OSM will support better cooperative efforts among government organizations working in new ways such as regional hydrologic investigations of subterranean water flow among interconnected underground coal mine workings, studies of potential mine blowout locations, acid mine drainage, and underground subsidence planning and investigation.  Use of these data to support traditional “oversight inspections” conducted by OSM of state regulatory activities may result in reallocation of human resources by OSM from random inspections to focus on geographically-defined “problem areas” to help SRA’s better implement SMCRA.

More Successful Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Lands

SMCRA organizations manage the reclamation of lands mined for coal and abandoned prior to passage of the Act through funding provided by OSM.  When reclaimed, these lands support higher and better land uses.  However, certain types of reclaimed coal mine features present

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