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Eastern Interior

Drill into subregion of eastern interior:

The Eastern Interior region, as defined by the USGS, is a region of a large number of coal mines along the southern border of Illinois, the western border of Indiana, and the western tip of Kentucky.

In 2008, production in Indiana was 35.9 million tons (7th in the US, 3.06% of total US production), Illinois produced 32.9 million tons (8th in the US, 2.81% of total US production) and the western part of Kentucky produced 30.1 million tons.  Kentucky as a whole produced 120.4 million tons and was behind only Wyoming and West Virginia in total production.

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  • Strip Mining 1970s

    Images from the 1970s documenting Scott Clark’s family’s relationship with strip mining in Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. Click here to see photoset.

‘Poster child’ coal generator embodies pollution challenge

May 28, 2014

When the Obama administration began the push for restricting the pollution being released from coal plants, one of the nation’s heaviest coal polluters alleged that they would face devastating consequences as a result.

Three years later none of these allegations have occurred. Instead, the Homer City power plant is now a success story on how some of the dirtiest and oldest coal power plants can lower their pollution levels in accordance with the EPA rules. Not only will the plant in western Pennsylvania meet the new restrictions but also they will be doing this without increasing the electricity bills for their consumers.

Read article at http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/may/28/poster-child-coal-generator-embodies-pollution/

Another Illinois miner killed on the job

May 15, 2014

Another coal miner was killed on the job while working at the MC No.1 Mine in Franklin County, Illinois. The incident happened on Wednesday when the coal miner became trapped between a machine and a coal rib at the Sugar Camp Energy complex.

This is the second fatality at this complex in less than seven months and the sixth mine fatality in 2014 according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Read article at http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2014/05/15/another-illinois-miner-killed-on-the-job/

A battle is looming over renewable energy, and fossil fuel interests are losing

May 5, 2014

A “trench warfare” is beginning in at least 18 state capitals across the country between industry groups looking to prevent further regulations looking to curb greenhouse gas emissions and a new and formidable opponent in the renewable-energy interest lobby. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and major coal companies such as Duke Energy and Peabody energy are joining together in attempts to preempt the EPA’s power plant rules.

Places such as Kansas, which have traditionally relied on fossil fuels as a key in economic stability, have recently become a battleground for wind proponents and renewable energy advocates. What were once bastions for coal interest lobbies and other fossil fuel advocates are now ripe battlegrounds for the clash of well-funded renewable energy and fossil fuel interest groups.

Read article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/a-battle-is-looming-over-renewable-energy-and-fossil-fuel-interests-are-losing/2014/04/25/24ed78e2-cb23-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html


In Victory for Obama, Court Backs Rules for Coal Pollution

April 29, 2014

The Supreme Court today upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to place regulations on pollution caused from coal-fired power plants that are emitted from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states. This is a major victory in reducing power plant pollution and highlights a decade long battle by the EPA to find a way to limit smog pollution that has been plaguing the eastern seaboard.

This ruling will require coal power plants to reduce their smokestack pollution in an effort to clean up air quality for downwind states. The EPA stated that this ruling would prevent more than 30,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of illness each year.

 Read article at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/us/politics/supreme-court-backs-epa-coal-pollution-rules.html?_r=1

Duke: Moving Coal Ash Would Cost up to $10 Billion

April 24, 2014

After the devastating February 2nd spill that released toxic sludge for over 70 miles on the Dan River, Duke Energy is under pressure to remove all coal ash that borders North Carolina’s rivers and lakes. Environmental groups are citing the need for Duke Energy to remove all of their coal ash to lined landfills in order to avoid the environmental degradation that occurred on the Dan River.

Duke Energy is alleging that this removal of coal ash would cost over $10 billion dollars and take decades to clean up. Furthermore, Duke Energy has stated that the majority of these costs for paying for coal ash clean up would come from its electricity customers.

 Read article at http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/duke-moving-coal-ash-cost-10-billion-23430364

Largest coal mines still in Wyoming, but US is diversifying

April 21, 2014

The Powder River Basin in 2013 listed the top nine coal producing mines in the United States. However, the amount of mines in the Powder River Basin situated in the top twenty five highest producing mines shrinked as compared to twenty years ago.

The decline in the amount of Powder River Basin mines being in the top twenty-five is the result of large mining projects taking hold in New Mexico, Texas, Indiana and Ohio. Nevertheless, the scale of coal production in the Powder River Basin’s Black Thunder mine and the North Antelope Rochelle mine are the largest producing coalmines with growths as high as 400% since 1994.

 Read article at http://www.mining.com/web/largest-coal-mines-still-in-wyoming-but-us-is-diversifying/

What next for Murray Energy?

April 18, 2014

Murray Energy Corporation stated Wednesday that the coal giant will no longer provide medical coverage for the over 1,200 retirees who worked for Consol Energy. Murray purchased Consol’s five West Virginia coal mines 16 months ago.

The termination of medical coverage will impact 1,200 former Consol Energy coal miners and 161 households in Pennsylvania alone. Murray Energy has cited this decision as a response to the struggling coal industry facing proposed regulatory reforms, legal actions and the growth of the Natural Gas industry.

Read article at http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2014/04/18/what-next-for-murray-energy/

Barclays and Citigroup Top Backers of U.S. Coal Industry’s Worst

April 17, 2014

Rainforest Action Group, BankTrack and the Sierra Club today released a report that Barclays and Citigroup are the top funders for dangerous coal practices. Barclays has been cited as the top funder of mountain top removal while Citigroup comes in as the top funder for power utilities that burn coal for electricity.

The report also highlighted that JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. have significantly reduced the amount of funding for mountaintop removal. This is an improvement for JPMorgan which last year was cited as being one of the top funders of coal related projects.

 Read article at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-17/barclays-and-citigroup-top-backers-of-u-dot-s-dot-coal-industry-s-worst

Coal Untouched By April’s Bloom

April 13, 2014

Forbes discusses the challenges faced by the coal industry in dealing with regulatory and legal battles that are likely to curtail expansion. With the boom in the natural gas industry, coal companies are facing decreased demand and the need to retrofit their operations to meet the upcoming carbon limits or shut down.

Companies such as Consol Energy are selling coalmines  (5 by Consol) in order to become more active in the natural gas market. Additionally major players in the coal industry (American Electric, Duke, First Energy and Southern) are being forced to shut down coalmines because of natural gas competition, regulatory carbon limits and upcoming legal battles.

 Read article at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2014/04/13/coal-untouched-by-aprils-bloom/

Can Coal Ever Be Clean?

April 10, 2014

National Geographic discusses the argument that clean coal is nothing more than a myth. The article discusses the idea of capturing the CO₂ and how long can these deposits actually store the carbon dioxide.

There is evidence from leading Geophysicists that often, the injection of the carbon dioxide is put into reservoirs with brittle rock. This leads to small earthquakes, which cause cracking in the overlying shale rock and leads to CO₂ leaking from the storage facilities.

 Read article at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/coal/nijhuis-text

Court declines to hear Arch Coal mining permit case

March 24, 2014

Arch Coal suffered a set back today when the United States Supreme Court declined to hear their challenge to the Obama administration’s blockage of an environmental permit for the Spruce No. 1 mining project in West Virginia.

The EPA in an unprecedented move vetoed a permit for Arch Coal despite the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers had given approval for the mine. The permit would have allowed Arch Coal to discharge coal associated waste into local waterways.  The case will now be returned back to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Read article at http://www.cnbc.com/id/101519586

See document at



BLM Could Enhance Appraisal Process, More Explicitly Consider Coal Exports, and Provide More Public Information

February 4, 2014

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released findings related to coal leasing and the need for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to enhance the appraisal process. GAO found that the BLM consistently failed to explain the rationale for accepting bids for coal leasing on federal land that at least initially were far below the actual fair market value presale estimates.

The report stated that the state offices of the BLM did not allow independent review of these leasing agreements with coal companies. Additionally, GAO cited that the BLM failed to take advantage of an independent third party appraisal within the Department of the Interior (Office of Valuation of Services).  Lastly, GAO was highly critical of the BLM’s failure to provide even limited information to the public on federal coal leasing.

 Read article at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-140

 See document at http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659801.pdf

New study examines mountaintop removal’s potential impact on mental health in Appalachia communities

October 22, 2013

Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University recently released a report that highlights the severe emotional toll that the coal industry’s practice of mountaintop removal takes on the people living where these extraction tactics take place.

The study released showed that of 8,591 adults living in Central Appalachia, 17% of respondents in mountaintop removal mining areas suffered from major depression. This was compared with 10% of respondents diagnosed with major depression in non-mining areas.

 Read article at http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2013/10/22/new-study-examines-mountaintop-removals-potential-impact-on-mental-health-in-appalachia-communities/

 See document at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/eco.2013.0029

After decades of decline, black lung on the rise in Eastern Kentucky

July 6, 2013

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently identified an increase in black lung disease among Kentucky coal miners. In 1969, 40 percent of seasoned miners had black lung but with the passage of the 1969 mining act, the prevalence from 1995 to 1999 had dropped to 2 percent.

However NIOSH recently reported that from 2005 to 2009, 9 percent of Eastern Kentucky miners had developed black lung. Some of the reasons being attributed are shifts of 10 to 12 hours in the mines; poorly designed dust control regulations; more cutting through rock in thinner coal seams; and the coal industry’s failure to follow these regulations to protect coal miner safety.

Read article at http://www.kentucky.com/2013/07/06/2705218/after-decades-of-decline-black.html

See document at http://media.kentucky.com/smedia/2013/07/03/12/07/wrWFO.So.79.pdf

MSHA Internal Audits, Region 3 and 4, 2010

Reports from MSHA Office of Accountability reviews of MSHA inspectors in regions 3 and 4.


MSHA Internal Audits, Region 8, 2010

Reports from MSHA Office of Accountability reviews of MSHA inspectors in region 8.

Part 1 of 2: /documents/msha-internal-audits-region-8-2010
Part 2 of 2: /documents/msha-internal-audits-region-8-part-2-of-2-2010

MSHA Internal Audits, Region 10, 2010

Reports from MSHA Office of Accountability reviews of MSHA inspectors in region 10.


Master Inspection List, Targeted Enforcement, Nov 2010

A list of the mines inspected and citations issued in the November 2010 push by MSHA to reinspect mines with a pattern of violations.

Coal mines included on the list were:


Potential Pattern of Violations Table – MSHA – 2010

List of the second group of mines notified that they are on the Potential Pattern of Violations list. Published November 11, 2010.


Illinois Department of Environmental Quality – Planned Coal Mine Subsidence in Illinois – 2008

A public information booklet about coal mine subsistence, what it is, its effects and the concept of “planned” subsistence. Circular 573