Skip navigation
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations |  Home  |  News  |  FAQ  |  Glossary
Document Library
Federal and Tribal Contacts

Ecological Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce ecological impacts from coal mining.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce ecological impacts of a project depending on site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to ecological resources are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance, habitat destruction, erosion, changes in runoff patterns, and hydrological alterations), project emissions (e.g., fugitive dust, sediment runoff, air releases, water releases), and resource use (e.g., water extraction). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Use existing facilities (e.g., access roads, parking lots, graded areas) to the extent possible to minimize the amount of new disturbance.
  • Review existing information on species and habitats in the project area. Contact appropriate agencies early in the planning process to identify potentially sensitive ecological resources that may be present in the project area.
  • Conduct pre-disturbance surveys and site facilities away from important ecological resources (e.g., wetlands, water bodies, important upland habitats, sensitive species populations).
  • Ensure protection of important resources by establishing protective buffers to exclude unintentional disturbance.
  • Minimize the amount of land disturbance and develop and implement stringent erosion and dust control practices.
  • Handle earth materials and runoff in a manner that minimizes the formation of acid mine drainage, prevents adding suspended solids to stream flow, and otherwise prevents water pollution. Construct sedimentation structures near the disturbed area to impound surface water runoff and sediment. Maintain as necessary, including discharge of water meeting applicable water quality standards, so as not to exceed designed storage capacity.
  • Bury electrical supply lines in a manner that minimizes additional surface disturbance. Use overhead lines in cases where the burial of lines would result in further habitat disturbance.
  • Develop a site reclamation plan that addresses both interim and final reclamation requirements and that identifies vegetation, soil stabilization, and erosion reduction measures. Ensure that interim reclamation of disturbed areas is conducted as soon as possible following facility construction.
  • Develop a plan for control of noxious weeds and invasive plants, that could occur as a result of new surface disturbance activities at the site. The plan should address monitoring, weed identification, the manner in which weeds spread, and methods for treating infestations. Require the use of certified weed-free mulching. Prohibit the use of fill materials from areas with known invasive vegetation problems.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a coal mine project include:

  • Educate workers regarding the occurrence of important resources in the area and the importance of protection.
  • Schedule activities to avoid disturbance of resources during critical periods of the day (e.g., night) or year (e.g., breeding season).
  • Instruct employees, contractors, and site visitors to avoid harassment and disturbance of wildlife, especially during reproductive (e.g., courtship, nesting) seasons. In addition, control pets to avoid harassment and disturbance of wildlife.
  • Avoid the spread of invasive nonnative plants by keeping vehicles and equipment clean and reseeding disturbed areas with native plants.
  • Limit pesticide use to nonpersistent, immobile pesticides and apply in accordance with label and application permit directions and stipulations for terrestrial and aquatic applications.
  • Apply spill prevention practices and response actions in refueling and vehicle-use areas to minimize accidental contamination of habitats.
  • Reclaim all areas of disturbed soil using weed-free native shrubs, grasses, and forbs, and restore the vegetation cover, composition, and diversity to values commensurate with the ecological setting.