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the ability to do work

First Law of Thermodynamics

energy is neither created nor destroyed but changed from one form to another

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977)

law sets forth minimum uniform requirements for all coal surface mining on Federal and State lands, including exploration activities and the surface effects of underground mining. Mine operators are required to minimize disturbances and adverse impact on fish, wildlife and related environmental values and achieve enhancement of such resources where practicable. Restoration of land and water resources is ranked as a priority in reclamation planning.

Active Collection

the use of pumps and other machines to actively collect energy (solar- absorbing energy from the sun by pumping heat-absorbing fluids through special collectors usually mounted on a roof)


example of metamorphic rock it is a form of coal


this form of coal is formed as a sedimentary rock derived from compacted plant remains

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)

created in 1975 a government-mandated standard on the fuel efficiencies of new vehicles sold in the US

Cost-benefit Analysis (CBA)

a comparison of estimated costs and benefits of an action. Such as building a dam would have a cost of displacing habitat and a benefit of creating electricity.

Criteria Pollutants

the EPAs list of 6 commonly found pollutants that are a good measure of air quality. (carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulfur Oxides (SOx), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Ozone (O3), Lead (Pb), Particulate Matter)

Crude oil

also known as petroleum it is the oil that comes out of the ground, it is a thick gooey liquid containing hundreds of hydrocarbons and small amounts of sulfur oxygen and nitrogen impurities.


capacity to do work by performing mechanical, physical, chemical or electrical tasks or to cause a heat transfer between two objects at different temperatures.

Endocrine Disruptor

chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system (hormone system) chemicals such as aluminum, atrazine, DDT, mercury and PCBs can cause birth defects, changes in sexual development, reproductive problems and cancer.


a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of an atom is split releasing a large amount of energy (does not occur naturally)

Fossil Fuels

products of partial or complete decomposition of plants and animals exposed to heat and preasure in the earths crust over millions of years (ex. Crude oil, natural gas, coal or heavy oils)

First law of Thermodynamics

in any physical or chemical change no energy can be created or destroyed, energy can be transferred from one for to another but you can not get more energy out of something than you put in

Fly ash

usually refers to the ash released during the combustion of coal contains silicon dioxide (SiO2) and calcium oxide (CaO) as well as other chemicals


the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half (A quantity of carbon-14 will decay to half of its original amount after 5730 years, regardless of how big or small the original quantity was.)

Hazardous Waste

any solid liquid or containerized gas that can easily catch fire, is corrosive to the skin tissue or metal, is unstable and can explode or emit toxic fumes, or has a concentration of one or more harmful materials that could leach out

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

a vehicle many fueled by electricity reducing air pollution, contains an internal combustion engine and a battery, much more fuel efficient

Hydroelectric Power

power generated by water (dams, tides, rivers etc.) a clean renewable resource

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

takes in the hydrogen gas and separates the hydrogen atoms' electrons from their protons. The electrons flow through wires that collect the energy and the protons pass through membranes and combine with oxygen to from water vapor

Hubbert Peak (Peak oil)

M. king Hubbert's theory that rate of petroleum production in any geographical area, from individual oil producing regions to the planet as a whole, will follow a bell shaped curve. The US's peak was reached in 1970


a unite of measuring oil (42 US gallons)


Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water for the general protection of human health and the environment or from a brownfield site intended for redevelopment. Remediation is generally subject to an array of regulatory requirements, and also can be based on assessments of human health and ecological risks where no legislated standards exist or where standards are advisory.

Renewable Resource

a renewable resource can be replenished fairly quickly (from hours to hundreds of years) through natural processes as long as it is forests, grasslands, fisheries, freshwater, fresh air, and fertile soil.


As nutrients move through the biogeochemical cycles, they may accumulate in one portion of the cycle and remain there for different lengths of time. These temporary storage sites such as the atmosphere, the ocean and other wastes, and underground deposits are called reservoirs.


devices containing alkaline substances that precipitate out much of the sulfur dioxide from industrial plants.

Second Law of Thermodynamics

In any conversion of heat energy to useful work, some of the initial energy input is always degraded to lower-quality (heat), more dispersed, less useful energy-usually low-temperature heat that flows into the environment; you cannot break even in terms of energy quality

Strip Mining

Form of surface mining in which bulldozers, power shovels, or stripping wheels remove large chunks of the earth's surface in strips


A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributed as subventions in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry (e.g., as a result of continuous unprofitable operations) or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor (as in the case of a wage subsidy). Examples are subsidies to encourage the sale of exports; subsidies on some foods to keep down the cost of living, especially in urban areas; and subsidies to encourage the expansion of farm production and achieve self-reliance in food production

Subsurface Mining

Extraction of a metal ore or fuel resource such as coal from a deep underground deposit

Surface Mining

Removing soil, subsoil, and other strata and then extracting a mineral deposit found fairly close to the earth's surface


Synthetic gaseous and liquid fuels produced from solid coal or sources other than natural gas or crude oil

Tar sands

is a mixture of clay, sand, water, and a combustible organic material called bitumen-a thick and sticky, heavy oil with a high sulfur content that makes up about 10% of the gooey mixture

Thermal Energy

The total energy of a substance particles due to their movement or vibrations also the energy of motion in the molecules of a substance

Ultraviolet energy

Ultraviolet radiation is electromagnetic radiation or light having a wavelength greater than 10 nm but less than 400 nm. Ultraviolet radiation has a wavelength longer than that of x-rays but shorter than that of visible light. Ultraviolet is energetic enough to break some chemical bonds. Three types: A, B and C


Waste-to-energy (WtE) or energy-from-waste (EfW) is the process of creating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the incineration of waste source. WtE is a form of energy recovery. Most WtE processes produce electricity directly through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels

Underground Mining

Underground mining is used to extract coal that is deep beneath the surface or in seams exposed on hillsides. It involves drilling two openings called shafts into the coal bed-one to transport miners and equipment and the other to bring coal to the surface.

Wind Farm

(Wind farms) Large, utility-scale turbines grouped together into power plants and connected to the electrical utility grid; their power is sold to utility customers

Kinetic Energy

Energy possessed by an object because of its motion; examples: light, heat, mechanical


A brownish-black fossil fuel that is used primarily for electric power generation. Considered to be a low-ranking type of coal. (aka brown coal)

Mechanical Energy

The sum of energy in a mechanical system. This energy includes both kinetic energy, the energy of motion, and potential energy, the stored energy of position.

Natural Gas

A mixture of combustible hydrocarbon gases, mostly methane and ethane, found trapped in the pore spaces of some sedimentary rocks, often along with petroleum deposits.

Nonrenewable Resource

A natural resource such as coal, gas, or oil that, once consumed, cannot be replaced.

Nuclear Energy

Energy released by nuclear reactions such as nuclear fission or fusion.

Nuclear Fission

A nuclear reaction that splits the nucleus of an atom into smaller, subatomic particles. It often produces free neutrons and photons.

Nuclear Fusion

The process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus.


Soil and other material which lies over a rock formation or mineral deposit.

Passive Solar Collection

Harnesses the heat of the sun without using any moving parts or photochemical interaction.

Photovoltaic Cell (PV Cell)

Devices that produce electricity directly from sunlight. They convert light into electricity by harnessing the energy created when photons from sunlight knock electrons into a higher state of energy, within the cell itself.

Potential Energy

The stored energy by any physical system, the standard unit for measuring this energy is the joule, example: chemical energy in sugar

Proven Reserve

A classification used in mining sectors that refers to the amount of resources that can be recovered from the deposit with a reasonable level of certainty.

Radiant Energy

Energy emitted as waves, usually electromagnetic waves, through space or some other medium.


Reclaiming or restoring natural lands to its original state


"rock oil" Primary source of automotive fuels and lubricant oils, petroleum is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and paraffins in some areas, and aromatics and cyclo-paraffins in other areas.

Peak Oil (Hubbert Peak)

Point when production of crude oil word wide reaches capacity and is evidenced by an increase in oil prices.

Oil Shale

Fine grained organic rich sedimentary rock containing significant amounts of kerogen from which liquid hydrocarbons can be processed. (a.k.a. kerogen oil)

Oil Sands (Tar Sands)

Oil reserve which are part of a natural mix of sand or clay, water, and a type of oil known as bitumen. (Process of extracting oil from tar sands is expensive, but when oil prices rise, considered more seriously for large-scale extractions)


A hydrocarbon liquid substance that is greasy to the touch and is formed by natural resources or the breakdown of fats.

Nonmarket Forces

Those acting on economic actors from outside the market system. They include internal and external organizing and correcting factors that provide order to market and other types of societal institutions and organizations - economic, political, social and cultural - so that they may function efficiently and effectively as well as repair their failures.

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