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Maximum Economic Recovery of Federal Coal

The federal coal leasing program recently established by the De-partment of the Interior (DOI) (Federal Register, July 19, 1979) includes a requirement that operators mining federal coal achieve "maximum economic recovery" (MER) of coal from federal leases. The MER requirement, the focus of this paper, has its legislative origins in the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976 which directs that "the Secretary (of Interior) shall evaluate and compare the effects of recovering coal by deep mining, by surface mining, and by any other method to determine which method or sequence of methods achieves the maximum economic recovery (emphasis added) of the coal within the proposed leasing tract ... no mining operating plan shall be approved which is not found to achieve the maximum economic recovery of the coal within the tract."

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Energy Specializations: Coal – Mining Techniques and Production; Coal – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes: Q35: Hydrocarbon Resources, Q38: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Government Policy, L71: Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels

Keywords: Coal, federal leases, US, maximum economic recovery, coal mining

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol5-No3-5

Published in Volume 5, Number 3 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.