Environmental Taxation and Climate Change

Environmental Taxation and Climate Change

Achieving Environmental Sustainability through Fiscal Policy

Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series

Edited by Larry Kreiser, Julsuchada Sirisom, Hope Ashiabor and Janet E. Milne

Containing an authoritative set of original essays, Environmental Taxation and Climate Change provides fresh insights and analysis on how environmental sustainability can be achieved through fiscal policy. Written by distinguished environmental taxation scholars from around the world, this timely volume covers a range of hotly debated subjects including carbon related taxation in OECD countries, implications of environmental tax reforms, innovative environmental taxation and behavioural strategies, as well as many other relevant topics.

Chapter 9: Coal Mining: The Neglected Environmental Threat

Hans Sprohge and Julsuchada Sirisom

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law


Hans Sprohge and Julsuchada Sirisom Coal mining causes considerable damage to the environment. Some of the damage is irreparable. An understanding of why this is so requires understanding how coal is formed. How coal is formed explains its location in the earth’s crust. Various mining methods are used to extract coal from the crust of the earth. These methods are very destructive to the environment. Both the federal government and the various states have enacted laws to protect the environment by requiring reclamation of mined areas. Sometimes these laws are ineffective in protecting the environment. They may not be enforced or skirted through legal chicanery. Even when there are good faith attempts to comply with laws intended to protect the environment, reclamation may not be possible. The damage to the environment from coal mining is exacerbated by tax incentives and externalities. Removing tax incentives for environmental degradation and creating tax incentives for environmental restoration can mitigate the negative environmental effects of coal mining. Additional benefits of doing so are that alternative energy sources may become competitive with coal and significant conservation efforts may be undertaken. COAL FORMATION Coal formed millions of years ago from massive accumulation of dead, land-based plant life, mainly trees.1 The energy in coal comes from the energy that plants absorbed from the sun millions of years ago.2 The plants that formed coal captured solar energy through photosynthesis to create the compounds that make up plant tissues. The most important element in the plant material...

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