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Preserving Natural Environments on Coal Lands at Minimum Cost

William Watson ()

The Energy Journal, 1996, vol. Volume17, issue Number 1, 91-127

Abstract: In the U.S., about 67 billion tons of coal (27% of the nation's surface minable coal) have been placed off-limits to surface mining by the Federal Land Policy Management Act and other restrictions in order to protect the environment. By the year 2005, it is projected that this reduction in coal reserves will add about $500 million per year to the nation's energy costs. As set-aside costs grow and the locked-up coal is perceived as progressively more valuable over time, it is likely that pressure will be brought on the U. S. Department of the Interior to revise its resource management plans. As a general rule, a rational management objective is to achieve a given amount of environmental preservation at the lowest cost. This paper provides an analytic framework, namely constrained cost minimization, for implementing that objective. Examples are given for protecting sage grouse and eagle habitat.

JEL-codes: F0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1996v17-01-a06