Appalachian School of Law Addresses Region’s Coal Refuse Problem with Innovative Solution

The Natural Resource Law Center at Appalachian School of Law (ASL) is pleased to announce it is engaging in a study to find new solutions to old problems associated with abandoned waste coal sites.  In keeping with ASL’s other interdisciplinary programs, such as the ASL-Ballad Medical-Legal Partnership, the new project championed by ASL to remediate these sites brings together environmental scientists, coal mine engineers, legal experts, energy utilities, and public bodies to find a consensus response to this serious environmental challenge.

Abandoned coal waste sites across the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia threaten water quality in valley streams, render land barren and depleted of value, damage air quality through emissions, and create the possibility of spontaneous combustion of these legacy sites.  The environmental, legal, policy, and practical implications of these sites are yet to be systematically studied in Virginia.

In this new program, ASL faculty and students will engage environmental scientists, economists, and other coal engineering experts to identify and prioritize waste coal sites in Southwest Virginia, determine possible legislative and  policy incentives and disincentives for the reclamation and remediation of waste coal sites, and analyze the environmental and economic benefits of using waste coal as fuel.

As this collaborative program reaches certain milestones, ASL will report its findings to governmental, environmental, industry stakeholders, and the public.

“This is an exciting project for our students and our region, as we hope to identify and seek solutions to threats to our water and air quality from these abandoned coal waste sites,” said retired 30th Circuit Judge Chad Dotson, a professor at ASL.  “It's yet another example of ASL's consistent focus on our mission: to provide opportunity for people from Appalachia and beyond to realize their dreams of practicing law and bettering their communities.”

According to ASL Dean, B. Keith Faulkner, “This new project further illustrates ASL’s determination to find innovative legal solutions to environmental challenges in Virginia and beyond.  This is the right law school, at the right time, in the right place to make a real difference on this issue.”

Posted September 14th 2021 Posted by