What is Act 54?
In 1994 amendments to the Pennsylvania Bituminous Mine Subsidence and Land Conservation Act (Act 54) required that a report on the surface impacts of underground coal mining be produced every 5 years. In 1999, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) prepared the report for the first five-year period, but has since contracted outside parties to conduct the research and compile the reports. In 2008 the University of Pittsburgh was contracted to prepare the third report, covering 2003-2008. The project required collaboration between university departments, including the efforts of the Tonsor Lab biologists.
The University of Pittsburgh has again accepted a contract with the PA DEP to present the fourth five-year period (2008-2013) report. Steve Tonsor, now the Lead Investigator for the project, will again head the biology component of the project. This segment, which has become one of the largest of the project, focuses on the effects that underground mining has had on Western Pennsylvanian streams and wetlands and the actions mining companies have taken to mitigate these effects. With the help of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) survey, on-site research into stream health, and the support of the PA DEP, the Act 54 biology team hopes to discover and report unbiased ecological data that will aid the state in protecting and reviving our region’s aquatic systems.
Director of Mining Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences, Deitrich School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pittsburgh