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Andrea Skloss's picture

A bag of coal.....

Andrea siting on the rim of a tire.Here I am sitting on the rim of a coal hauling dump truck tire.

I belong to the Texas Regional Science Collaborative and this summer we spent a week at a coalmine. Texas has Lignite, which is surfaced mined. Lignite has the lowest BTU ratings of the three types of coal, yet it provides 39% of the electricity used in Texas. Texas is also the 6th largest coal producer in the United States. Being in the field of science for over three decades, I can be skeptical about certain things. Since coal has been called a dirty fuel for a number of years, this is what I was looking for! I have to say, at least in Texas, the stringent regulations on emission and strict reclamation parameters have made this industry cleaner than many other industries. (The railroad commission regulates coal mining.) The reclamation must be as good or better than it was prior to mining. One mine environmentalist said "I am going for the WOW factor and that is way we try to make the land better than it was. Texas is my home." I was impressed by the technology and environmental consciousness.

Anthracite, bituminous, and lignite coalThree types of coal: anthracite, bituminous, and lignite

Foot and cableMy foot compared to the dragline bucket cable.

My challenge from a fellow collaborative member is "how are you going to tie coal mining to your experience in the arctic?" Here I go...we are a country that uses an enormous about of energy. In the Chukchi Sea oil and gas want to explore. The scientific team aboard the Healy is looking at reasons why Hanna Shoal is a biological hot spot. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management supports this research cruise where a multidisciplinary investigation is being conducted to examine the biological, chemical and physical properties that define this important ecosystem.

Science is everywhere you look, see, touch, hear or taste. Ask questions, check you facts and resources, and then make your hypothesis. You do this we you buy a car, or a piece of technology, so why not do the same thing when it comes to the environment?