Real-time coal mining and reclamation: the Office of Surface Mining’s Technical Innovation and Professional Services program
Who are the program’s customers? State governments enforcing the Federal coal surface mining and reclamation law within their state boundaries are the primary customers.1 In addition, the program provides technical support to tribal regulatory programs and Office of Surface Mining (OSM) offices administering the Federal law where the states do not (e.g. OSM enforces the Federal law on Indian lands). Before a coal-mining company can start mining, it has to secure approval from the state government or OSM by submitting a comprehensive mining and reclamation plan to the regulatory authority. The mining and reclamation plan is then reviewed and approved if it is determined that it is in compliance with the Federal law. So state governments, tribal governments, and OSM offices are TIPS’ customers. There are, in fact, about seven hundred TIPS customers throughout the country, from Maryland to Alaska, using twenty-six different TIPS-provided scientific/engineering software applications on their computers. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) is the primary Geographic Information System (GIS) tool. Other software applications available through TIPS include Autodesk’s AutoCAD, Dynamic Graphics, Inc. (DGI) EarthVision three-dimensional modeling software, and a whole suite of hydrology software packages. These are the applications used throughout the country by engineers, hydrologists, scientists, geologists, archaeologists, biologists, and ecologists to review coal mine-permit applications and assess field compliance with the approved permit applications. Compre hensive training programs must, of course, accompany the implementation of the software. Implementation of the training program is accomplished by three methods: (1) instructorbased training at regional training centers, (2) web-based e-Training, and (3) project specific on-the-job training.