Environment Local News

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

A professor at the University of Kentucky is calling on state lawmakers to fund an advanced mining research center in the commonwealth. Dr. Braden Lusk teaches mining engineering at UK.

Lusk says Kentucky is in dire need of additional research into improving the safety and productivity of coal extraction.

“Most companies have reserves in other areas so they’re not dependent upon Kentucky coal to survive,” he said. “However, I think Kentucky needs coal production in order to remain competitive. So long-term sustainability of Kentucky coal mining is very important to our state and we need to make sure we have maximum efficiency.”

Lusk says the center could be supported with a yearly allocation of a million dollars in coal severance funds.

“I think this needs to be driven by industry stakeholders,” he said. “The people who are mining coal in Kentucky need to tell us as faculty members what they need. What do we need to work on? This is also going to directly affect the ability to competitively extract coal in Kentucky. We can also support mine emergency and mine rescue training within Kentucky with this money.”

Lusk says Kentucky mine rescue teams sometimes have to travel out of state for training because the commonwealth lacks the facilities.