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The Influence of Subsidence Laws and Regulations on the Underground Bituminous Coal Industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the Last 25 Years

DaCanal, Taylor (2019) The Influence of Subsidence Laws and Regulations on the Underground Bituminous Coal Industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania over the Last 25 Years. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Pennsylvania is currently the third leading state in coal production. The first underground coal mines in Pennsylvania were formed in the late 1700s by mining the outcrops of the Pittsburgh coalbed on the hillsides of Mount Washington. For over 200 years in Pennsylvania, there has been an evolution of both underground coal mining and the laws and regulations that govern it.
Room-and-pillar and longwall mining methods have been used in Pennsylvania. Though more efficient and safer for miners, the longwall mining technique, introduced in the late 1960s, elevated both the number and intensity of subsidence related impacts to surface features. The 1966 Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act was the first state law advocating for the protection of surface structures from subsidence. In 1994, Pennsylvania amended the outdated 1966 law with the formation of Act 54 for additional protection of structures, watersources, lands, and streams from mine subsidence. Act 54 requires all impacts due to mining be recorded and analyzed on a five-year basis. Between 1993 and 2018, there have been 2,222 impacts to structures, land, and watersources for which the mining companies were responsible for repairing or fairly compensating the property owner for damages. The data collected from the 25-years of Act 54 enables an investigation of how the country’s strictest subsidence regulations have impacted Pennsylvania’s mining industry.
This study used data collected through Act 54 to identify trends in mine characteristics and surface impacts to spot significant changes in mining. Subsidence prediction models were compared with the recorded field impacts to observe when impacts occurred in expected areas and, more importantly, when they appeared far beyond the predicted influence zone of the models. Case studies of far field effects were studied to determine why these impacts are occurring past the expected prediction limit. The recognized trends and characteristics of impacts aided in the review of the standards and guidelines set by Act 54. Overall, this study found Act 54 to be an evolving law that has contributed to protection of the communities and environmental resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
DaCanal, Taylortrd35@pitt.edutrd35
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairIannacchione, Anthonyati2@pitt.eduati2
Committee MemberBain, Danieldbain@pitt.edudbain
Committee MemberVallejo, Luisvallejo@pitt.eduvallejo
Date: 9 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 July 2019
Approval Date: 9 September 2019
Submission Date: 26 July 2019
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 470
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Subsidence Laws and Regulations,Underground Bituminous Coal Industry, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2019 20:11
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2020 05:15


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