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Rock of Ages: Why Kentucky’s Use of the Abandonment Test in Deciding the Ownership of Mineral Refuse is Inadequate

Published in Kentucky Law Journal

by Monica Braun

INTRODUCTION

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.

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