Published in Kentucky Law Journal
by Monica Braun
The History of Mineral Refuse and Current Advancements
Since coal was first mined in Kentucky on April 13, 1750, it has greatly impacted the Commonwealth. The legal community has certainly not been immune from this impact, as courts within the state have issued countless decisions concerning the coal and mineral industry. A century of litigation has yet to resolve many of these issues, as Kentucky courts are consistently being asked to further shape the law surrounding the mineral industry. An issue currently garnering attention concerns the ownership of mineral waste and refuse. While the coal mining process has always produced waste, technological improvements and state regulation have radically changed the amount of waste and disposal processes of mining refuse. These developments are forcing legislative reconsideration of century-old property law, as well as obviating the need for a new approach to decide these challenging and complex property disputes. In addition, these developments have demonstrated that several general principles of property law, long used in the area of mineral ownership, are insufficient and lacking.