I cannot answer that for me at all. The federal government has never offered any assistance to universities in this area. The National Science Foundation (NSF) alone gives out over $25 million in awards annually. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), a unit within OSMRE, does its own mining assessment and has its own budget for the fiscal year ended in September. That is more than enough to do this task. It also gives the university another tool to help with their reporting and to help with the audit process.
Do you think OSW can help OSMRE?
This project has been a huge effort. We have been overwhelmed. That is the reason we are holding our first ever meeting to decide what we want to do next. In fact, today was the first day when we actually sat and discussed what we are going to do next. It has gone on a lot of days before that. It is a long process, but there are some steps we can take that will be helpful to both of us.
Did you know a lot of students get interested in environmental issues only after an incident like this?
If students have never heard of it, they definitely know who OSW is. OSW provides us with the opportunity to make some very helpful information available to students. We work very closely with the people involved and we have been able to get a lot of information out of the local communities.
How does OSW use your data?
OSW uses the data that we provide back in support of our audits. We are also able to use that data in projects we are pursuing. The most recent audit is that we worked with a mining contractor that had an asbestos-infested mine building. OSW took a risk audit. They went outside OSMRE and met with the owners of the mine and the community to determine the most effective way for the mine to deal with its issues and ensure this would not happen again. The results of that audit have helped us in several other projects. We have some real work in the pipeline. In fact, we have been able to get together with some partners to make some significant progress on a lot of those projects.
We are in the process of trying to get some really exciting projects going on right now. There are some amazing things that are going to happen with our projects. Most of them will take place at OSW when they have a lot of the tools at our disposal to make that project