Science Inventory

Ecological consequences of elevated total dissolved solids associated with fossil fuel extraction in the United States

Citation:

FRITZ, K. M., B. R. JOHNSON, M. PASSMORE, AND G. POND. Ecological consequences of elevated total dissolved solids associated with fossil fuel extraction in the United States. Presented at Thomas More College Ohio River Field Station Summer Seminar Series, California, KY, August 12, 2009.

Impact/Purpose:

The goal of this research is to develop methods and indicators that are useful for evaluating the condition of aquatic communities, for assessing the restoration of aquatic communities in response to mitigation and best management practices, and for determining the exposure of aquatic communities to different classes of stressors (i.e., pesticides, sedimentation, habitat alteration).

Description:

Fossil fuel burning is considered a major contributor to global climate change. The outlook for production and consumption of fossil fuels int he US indicates continued growth to support growing energy demands. For example, coal-generated electricity is projected ot increase from 49% in 2006 to 55% in 2030 and fossil fuels are expected to generate 70% of the US electricity (down only 1% from 2006). Technology and policy addressing global climate change emphasize reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, these avenues do not substantially reduce dependence upon fossil fuels and therefore do not address water quality degradation directly associated with fossil fuel extraction. Water extracted to recover onshore gas and oil (produced water) or that leaches through mine spoil often contains high levels of total dissolved solids (TDS or specific conductance). Where such water flows into natural waterbodies there is a potential for degraded water quality. A recent method of coal mining, mountaintop removal and valley fill (MTR/VF) has dramatically increased in the Central appalachians. MTR/VF begins with blastng and excavating vegetation, soil and layers of sedimentary rock (i.e., overburden) to recover the underlying coal. The overburden is deposited into adjacent valleys, creating valley fills. At least 1200 stream kilometers have been permanently buried under approximately 6700 valley fills.

URLs/Downloads:

KFRITZ-ECO CONSEQUENCE FOSSIL FUEL.PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 3153 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 08/12/2009
Record Last Revised: 06/22/2010
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 205314

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION

ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH