Coal mining can result in a number of adverse effects on the environment. Surface mining of coal completely eliminates existing vegetation, destroys the genetic soil profile, displaces or destroys wildlife and habitat, degrades air quality, alters current land uses, and to some extent permanently changes the general topography of the area mined, This often results in a scarred landscape with no scenic value. Rehabilitation or reclamation mitigates some of these concerns and is required by US Federal Law, specifically the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.
Mine tailing dumps produce acid mine drainage which can seep into waterways and aquifers, with consequences on ecological and human health. If underground mine tunnels collapse, this can cause subsidence of land surfaces. During actual mining operations, methane, a known greenhouse gas, may be released into the air. And by the movement, storage, and redistribution of soil, the community of microorganisms and nutrient cycling processes can be disrupted.