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An Improved Inventory of Methane Emissions from Coal Mining in the United States

U.S. Surface Mines Emissions Assessment

Past efforts to estimate methane emissions from underground mines, surface mines, and other coal mine operations have been hampered, to different degrees, by a lack of direct emissions data. Direct measurements have been completely unavailable for several important coal mining operations. A primary goal of this study was to collect new methane emissions measurements and other data for the most poorly characterized mining operations, and use these data to develop an improved methane emission inventory for the U.S. coal mining industry. This required the development and verification of measurement methods for surface mines, coal handling operations, and abandoned underground mines, and the use of these methods at about 30 mining sites across the U.S. Although the study’s focus was on surface mines, abandoned underground mines, and coal handling operations, evaluations were also conducted to improve our understanding of underground mine emission trends, and to develop improved national data sets
of coal properties. Total U.S. methane emissions are estimated to be 4.669 million tons and, as expected, emissions from underground mine ventilation and methane drainage systems dominate (74 percent of the total emissions). On the other hand, emissions from coal handling, abandoned underground mines, and surface mines are significant, and collectively they represent about 26 percent of the total emissions.