Land Resources Inventory of Lignite Strip-Mining Areas, East Texas: An Application of Environmental Geology

With the growing concern for finding new sources of energy, there has been renewed interest in an old source, lignite. In the past few years, Texas lignite has been "rediscovered", and a wave of lignite exploration rivals the early oil booms of Texas history. Present heavy leasing activity will be followed during the next decade by the development of numerous mines. Surface mining of coal in other parts of the country has created many environmental problems. Particularly in Appalachia and the Midwest, these problems have given the American public a poor image of coal mining. Too often in the past, attempts to solve the problems have consisted of inventories of environmental degradation after mining begins and after meaningful preventive treatment could have been implemented. Though these studies are necessary, they can only help solve the problems if the knowledge gained is applied in advance to areas where mining is about to be initiated. An understanding of the problems will permit mine operators to implement preventive measures before mining commences. Concern over potential environmental degradation from present and future lignite mining in Texas has led the Texas Legislature to pass the "Texas Surface Mining and Reclamation Act" (Texas Legislature, 1975). To be effective, the act must be applied knowledgeably, based on a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of mining, the potential environmental effects of mining, the ways in which these effects will interact with the land and water, and the basic character of the land that will be affected by the mining. This report is concerned primarily with the last two points, though the others are also considered. It explains the application of environmental geologic mapping to lignite mining and indicates how the mapping can be used to avoid or alleviate potential environmental problems; it also illustrates the various considerations that go into environmental geologic mapping and environmental planning in general. Significant lignite deposits occur in sections of eastern and southern Texas.
Christopher D. Henry

Henry, C. D., 1976, Land Resources Inventory of Lignite Strip-Mining Areas, East Texas: An Application of Environmental Geology: The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology Geological Circular 76-2, 28 p.

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The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology
Geological Circular