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Ecological consequences of elevated total dissolved solids associated with fossil fuel extraction in the United States
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.
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.
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).
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ECOLOGICAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH DIVISION
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH BRANCH