Terrestrial carbon disturbance from mountaintop mining increases lifecycle emissions for clean coal

James F. Fox, J. Elliott Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The Southern Appalachian forest region of the U.S. - a region responsible for 23% of U.S. coal production - has 24 billion metric tons of high quality coal remaining of which mountaintop coal mining (MCM) will be the primary extraction method. Here we consider greenhouse gas emissions associated with MCM terrestrial disturbance in the life-cycle of coal energy production. We estimate disturbed forest carbon,. Including Terrestrial Soil and Nonsoil Carbon Using Publ. U.S. Environ. Protect. Agy. Data of the Forest Fl. Removed and U.S. Dept. of Agric.-Forest Serv. Inventory Data. We Estim. the Amount of Previously Buried Geogenic Organ. Carbon Broughtto the Soil Surf. during MCM Using Publ. Measurements of Total Organ. Carbon and Carbon Isotope Data for Reclaimed Soils, Soil Organ. Matter and Coal Fragments. Contrary to Conventional Wisdom, the Lifecycle Emissions of Coal Prod. for MCM Methods Were Found to be Quite Significant When Considering the Potential Terrestrial Src.. Including Terrestrial Disturbance in Coal Lifecycle Assess. Indicates That Indirect Emissions Are at Least 7 and 70% of Pwr. Plant Emissions for Conventional and CO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2144-2149
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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