Exploration for and the production of natural gas from coal (termed coalbed methane or CBM in the report) continues to develop rapidly in eastern Kansas and especially in southeast Kansas. During this study period 1774 wells were determined to have been drilled for exploration or production of coalbed methane since the start of CBM activities in eastern Kansas. Of this total 973 wells were recognized to be producing CBM in eastern Kansas. Production of CBM during 2003 totaled approximately 10 billion cubic feet. This production total is mainly from four counties (Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson, and Labette counties) within the Cherokee basin of southeast Kansas. Two additional counties with significant CBM production include Chautauqua and Miami counties.
Coal is the most abundant energy source in the world, and it is a major source of hydrocarbons, particularly gas. The coalification process, whereby plant material is progressively converted to coal, generates large quantities of methane-rich gas, which are stored within the coal. The presence of this gas has been long recognized due to explosions and outbursts associated with underground coal mining. Only recently has coal been recognized as a reservoir rock as well as a source rock, thus representing an enormous undeveloped "unconventional" energy resource. But production of coalbed methane (CBM) is accompanied by significant technical and environmental challenges, including disposal of large quantities of water produced with the gas. CBM production was initially spurred by a tax incentive. Internal Revenue Code Section 29 provided a non-refundable tax credit for sale of CBM (as well as other qualified alternative fuels) from wells drilled between 1980 and 1992 inclusive, for sales of fuel between 1980 and 2002 inclusive.
Des Moines, Iowa, the state's capital city, is situated within a portion of the state underlain by abundant coal resources. Early in the city's history, local deposits of coal were a readily available source of fuel for homes, industries, and railroads. Eventually, an underground mining industry arose in the Des Moines area and persisted for over 100 years (1840 to 1947). Recorded production totalled 50,965,427 tons from original reserves estimated at 750 million tons in Polk County (Landis and Van Eck, 1965).
More than 122 million tons of coal combustion by-products (CCBs) are produced nationwide each year by coal-burning utilities that generate electricity. About 60% of these CCBs are disposed of as waste (American Coal Ash Association 2006). In addition to fly ash and bottom ash CCBs, the annual production of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) CCBs is expected to continue to increase as more utilities add FGD systems to their existing plants or build new plants with FGD systems in order to meet more stringent nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide standards.
Sand and Lookout Mountains are underlain by Pennsylvanian age coal-bearing rocks which crop out along, around, and on these mountains and ·which have been mined for more than 100 years. These coal deposits have been known for a long time to be of superior quality; however, little significant data have been gathered in a systematic manner and on a broad, regional scale.
Coal and the Environment explains the uses and importance of coal, the environmental concerns associated with its mining and use, and how technological advances are making coal an environmentally cleaner fuel. Because coal is such an abundant, low-cost source of needed energy, developing even more environmentally sound ways to use coal in the future is very important.