Minerals and Energy Development

Posted: Apr 6, 2010

Hardrock Mining

Mineral extraction in the United States is governed by various federal and state mining, land use, and environmental laws, depending in large part on the type of minerals being extracted and who owns the land. Minerals are generally categorized aslocatable, leasable or saleable minerals. This section of RLCH Laws focuses on the law regarding development of locatable (also known as hardrock) minerals on federal lands. The General Mining Law of 1872, the organic acts of the various federal land management agencies, and federal and state environmental statutes control development of these minerals.

Oil and Gas Resource Development

Oil, gas (including coalbed methane), and coal are the nation's principal non-renewable energy resources. Development of federally owned oil and gas resources is regulated by several federal laws and associated regulations.

Renewable Energy Resource Development

The United States’ principal renewable energy resources are wind, solar, bio-energy, and geothermal energy. American renewable energy legislation is still an emerging area of the law, although the nation has made some major strides in the last several decades. The development of renewable energy resources in the United States has been advanced by several major federal laws and associated regulations.

Coal Resource Development

Coal is a fossil fuel formed from the decomposition of organic materials that have been subjected to geologic heat and pressure over millions of years. Coal mining is a major industry in the United States and most of the coal mined in the U.S. is used to produce electricity. Coal mining in the U.S. is regulated under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA)

Nuclear Energy Development

Increasing demand for electricity and concern about pollution and climate change have led to renewed interest in nuclear energy production. As interest in nuclear energy production rises, so to does the need for uranium mining. While nuclear energy offers emission-free power, it fails to live up to its ‘clean energy’ reputation due to the dangers of uranium mining.

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