Sep

21

"Mining it More, Burning it Less": 

We're mining more coal in the US, more efficiently than ever, but burning less of it. Domestic consumption of coal is down to its lowest point since 1988. Meanwhile US coal exports have reached their highest levels in 20 years.

Republicans accuse President Obama of waging "war on coal." Coal companies blame over-regulation from Washington. But US coal production has risen substantially over the last half century, from 560 million tons in 1950 to 1.1 billion in 2011.


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  1. Rich on September 22, 2012 7:38 am

    “But US coal production has risen substantially over the last half century, from 560 million tons in 1950 to 1.1 billion in 2011″

    Two data points and a straight line can serve many objectives, an understanding of reality is usually not one of them.

    Annual US Coal production data are readily available and a cursory examination reveals a strikingly different picture than the quote above implies.

    About 90% of the growth in US coal production above the 1950 level occurred in the 24 year period between 1966 and 1990.

    US coal production first attained the present 1.1 billion ton mark in 1998 (1996 if you want to round up). It peaked only slightly higher at a little less than 1.2 billion tons in 2008. So US coal production has been essentially flat for at least the last 15 years.

    There are undoubtedly many factors that impact US coal production trends; government policy implemented through regulation is clearly one of them. What impact these and other factors will have on future production is an interesting question.

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