Coal Fields and Federal Lands of the Conterminous United States

Open-File Report 97-461




The map depicts the relationship of coal and public lands in the conterminous U. S. Multiple GIS layers are being created for the purpose of deriving estimates of how much coal is owned and administered by the Federal government. Federal coal areas have a profound effect on land-management decisions. Regulatory agencies attempt to balance energy development with alternative land-use and environmental concerns. A GIS database of Federal lands used in energy resource assessments is being developed by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to integrate information on status of public land, and minerals owned by the Federal government with geologic information on coal resources, other spatial data, coal quality characteristics, and coal availability for development. Using national-scale data we estimate that approximately 60 percent of the area underlain by coal-bearing rocks in the conterminous United States are under Federal surface. Coal produced from Federal leases has tripled from about 12 percent of the total U.S. production in 1976 to almost 34 percent in 1995 (Energy Information Administration website The reason for this increase is demand for low-sulfur coal for use in power plants and the fact that large reserves of this low-sulfur coal are in the western interior U.S., where the Federal government owns the rights to most of the coal reserves. The map was created using Arc/Info 7.0.3 on a UNIX system. The HPGL2 plot file for this map is available from the USGS Energy Resource Surveys Team from

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Coal Fields and Federal Lands of the Conterminous United States
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: 4 p.; Map; Map Files
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