The Coal Industry Is At Its Lowest Point Since 1979


Natural gas and renewable energy, including wind and solar power, are climbing.

USA coal consumption in 2018 is expected to be the lowest since 1979 and fall further still next year, as a near-record number of coal plants closed in 2018, according to a December 4 report by the Energy Information Administration.

She said that the data revealed in the U.S. Energy Information Administration's report "shows major progress for communities across our country who've worked feverishly over the past decade to shift America away from dirty, expensive coal plants that poison their communities and add to the climate crisis". Tougher pollution rules are also causing coal to lose some market shares. The new rules compelled some older coal plants to close instead of upgrading their equipment to trap harmful emissions, according to the Associated Press.

President Donald Trump has made bringing back the coal industry and abundant coal jobs a tenet of his administration. He and other Republicans frequently attacked President Obama for his increased regulations of the industry.

The move dovetails with the EPA's separate effort to dramatically weaken an Obama administration regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

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At a rally in West Virginia last summer, Trump declared, "The coal industry is back". But the numbers say otherwise. "The decline in coal-fired capacity is expected to further reduce coal consumption: EIA's latest Short-Term Energy Outlook expects power sector coal consumption to fall 4 percent in 2018 and 8 percent in 2019".

National gas production in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia has jumped from 2 percent of the nation's total in 2008 to 27 percent past year, Perry said.

Joe Pizarchik, the former director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, explained that Trump "talks tough to the coal miners to get their support, but he doesn't deliver for them, and I don't think that he can, because the markets are bigger than him".

Pizarchik, now a consultant on water quality and reforestation, said lower prices for natural gas and renewables will continue to drive down demand for coal, despite deregulation efforts by the Trump administration. Utilities are using a provision in the tax law that lets them accelerate depreciation costs for closing plants.