The U.S. coal industry is highly competitive, both regionally and nationally. In addition to competition within the eastern United States region, coal is transported into the region from the western United States and by foreign producers for purchase by utility customers.
In 2012, the United States produced about 1.0 billion tons of coal, a reduction of 13 percent compared with 2008.
As of the beginning of 2012, there were 1,325 coal mines in the U.S., the vast majority of them in the Appalachian region (1,141).
The industry employs approximately 137,000 people.
The United States has more than a 230-year supply of coal if it continues using coal at the same rate at which coal is used today.
- Nearly 2.5 million acres of mined lands have been reclaimed over the past 34 years – that’s an area larger than the state of Delaware.
Industry Projections *
By 2040, the share of electricity generation from coal is expected to fall to 35 percent, well below the 48-percent share seen as recently as 2008, due to slow growth in electricity demand, increased competition from natural gas and renewable generation, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations.
The natural gas share of electric power generation is expected to increase from 24 percent in 2010 to 30 percent in 2040.
Cumulative retirements of coal-fired power plants through 2022 are projected to total approximately 49 gigawatts (16 percent of coal-fired generator fleet).
- Growth in electricity demand is expected to remain relatively slow, as increased demand for electricity services is offset by efficiency gains from new appliance standards and investments in energy-efficient equipment.
* Per the Annual Energy Outlook 2013, produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration