More Than 50 Coal Companies Have Been Wiped Out Since Trump’s 2016 Victory

From The Daily Caller

Daily Caller News Foundation logo

Chris White Tech Reporter

November 23, 2019 8:51 PM ET

  • Coal producers are still finding life difficult even as President Donald Trump is easing regulations on the industry.
  • More than 50 coal plants have shuttered since 2015, when Trump began campaigning to save the industry from former President Barack Obama’s so-called war on coal.
  • Trump has seen one of his biggest backers, coal tycoon Robert Murray, fall on hard times after his plant filed for bankruptcy amid the country’s changing energy mix.

One of the largest coal companies in the western U.S. closed Monday, making it among the more than 50 coal producers to shutter since voters elected President Donald Trump in 2016 on a promise to rescue the industry.

The Navajo Generating Station burned the last of its coal as the Arizona-based coal producer deals with the industry’s downturn, the Arizona Republic reported Monday. The mine that supplied the plant with coal closed in August, leaving Navajo with no other supply in the area.

This comes after a coal company headed by one of Trump’s biggest supporters filed for bankruptcy in October. Murray Energy announced on Oct. 29 that it reached an agreement to continue operating, with CEO Robert Murray relinquishing two of his roles in the company.

Murray contributed $1 million to a Trump super political action committee and donated another $300,000 to the president’s inauguration. He’s also been at the forefront of efforts to poke and prod the Department of Energy into crafting policies designed to prop up the fledgling coal industry.

He also has done his level best to provide leverage for the industry during a time of upheaval. A series of reports in 2017, for instance, showed photos of the coal tycoon meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry that year to craft policies designed to prop up the coal industry.

Things have been rough for the industry, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). (RELATED: This Major Trump Backer Is Behind An Effort To Block Gas Power Plants)

Nearly “34.1 [gigawatts] of coal capacity from 170 coal-fired generators at 85 plants have retired — 36 of those plants remain operational” since 2016, Glenn McGrath, an engineer at EIA who is responsible for calculating electricity generation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. One gigawatt can power roughly 300,000 homes.

He added: “One could reasonably claim that roughly 50 plants with coal-fired capacity have closed.” The closures have actually slowed since 2015 during former President Barack Obama’s final term in office, according to EIA data.

“The annual number of retired U.S. coal units has declined since 2015, and the configuration of retired coal capacity has changed,” EIA noted in a report in July. Most of the plants that have retired since 2015 have been larger than those that shuttered after that year, according to the report.

Trump, meanwhile, is getting pushback from environmentalists and Democrats who object to his regulation rollbacks. New York Attorney General Letitia James is among a handful of attorneys general who are suing the administration to block Trump from easing restriction on coal power plants.

James, a Democrat, argues the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had no basis for weakening a regulation Obama brought in 2015 that placed national limits on carbon dioxide pollution from coal power plants. The so-called Clean Power Plan required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022 and encouraged states to close and replace facilities with natural gas.

Obama’s rule was expected to force more coal power plants and mines to close down, costing thousands of jobs in the process. Nearly 40% of coal-fired power capacity has been retired or announced plans to retired as a result of market forces, technological change and an increase in regulations, according to some experts. Trump promised to end what conservatives believe was Obama’s “war on coal.”

“America is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance, including more than 250 years worth of beautiful clean coal,” Trump tweeted in a May 2018. “We have ended the war on coal and will continue to work to promote American energy dominance!” He was reviving elements of his campaign promise.

Coal is still an important energy mixture. The U.S. got 27% of its power from coal plants in 2018, despite mining jobs declining in recent years, according to federal data. Coal power generation and mining employed 160,119 American workers in 2016, the Energy Department reported. Coal use globally is expected to rise in the coming decades on growing demand, mostly from Asian countries.

Some energy advocates say the closures are a result of Obama-era regulations. “I do think Trump has ended the war on coal. Most of the plant closures were baked into utility plans once the [Mercury and Air Toxics Standards] MATS rule came out,” Myron Ebell, an analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the DCNF. Ebell worked on Trump’s EPA transition team and is a fervent critic of Obama’s policies.

He added: “We and others fought the MATS rule. It was absolutely a shameful rule.” Ebell was referring to the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), an Obama-era regulation that required the EPA to factor in additional “co-benefits” when evaluating a regulation’s cost compared to its expected health benefits. Obama used the rule to justify waves of regulations.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the rule in 2015. Justices ruled that the EPA should have considered the costs regulations impose on utilities before foisting rules on them. Obama-era EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sparked an optimistic tone after the high court acted.

“But even if we don’t, it was three years ago,” McCarthy said on a June, 29 2015 appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.” “Most of them are already in compliance, investments have been made, and we’ll catch up. And we’re still going to get at the toxic pollution from these facilities.” She has not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.

EPA supports all kinds of energy production, provided the producers comply with the Clean Air Act, the agency told the DCNF.

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Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 6:54 am

Of course, there will be the usual guff from anti-coalers about NG being “the reason” for coal’s decline. But coal was given a one-two punch, the primary one being from the unconstitutional Obamanible EPA and its blatant attempt at ending coal. The Trump administration needs to do more to help coal get back on its feet, beginning with targeting the EPA’s bogus declaration of CO2 as a “pollutant”. In fact, the EPA should probably be abolished, as it is an out-of-control, unconstitutional body acting without any oversight.

David s
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 7:58 am


Reply to  David s
November 25, 2019 9:44 am


Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 8:11 am


Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 8:44 am

I remember GW Bush with that frozen, teleprompter demeanor declaring CO2 a “pollutant”. Grrr…

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 12:26 pm

How’s come the article HEADLINE didn’t read, to wit?

More Than 50 Coal Companies Have Been Wiped Out Since President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton launched an all-out attack against coal.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
November 25, 2019 3:31 pm

Trump did nothing to cause this.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 12:50 pm

We have been trying to get our Carbon Capture technology in front of President Trump. This technology turns the CO2 into good paying full time jobs and money.
We don’t use expensive lab produced amine. We use what God has provided to produce a sorbent that absorbs the CO2 turning it into friendly earth based products that can then be sold.
America has to take another look at it’s energy sources and supply. The end of civilization is not here in 10 or 12 years. The democrats want to spend 70 Trillion to reduce CO2 emissions. We want to have Billions go into America’s Economy.
America has over 600 years of good quality coal available. This needs to be used to produce electricity. Our natural gas needs to be used Efficiently for building space heating and by industry to produce all those other products that we consume daily.
America’s oil is to be used for transportation and to produce all those other products where oil is required.
The renewables, solar and wind need to have it’s own grid network feeding the produced electricity to the growing EV industry. When the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing and the batteries go dead it’s time to park and call it a day. No harm done.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Sid Abma
November 25, 2019 3:35 pm

The world is better off with “Free Carbon”.
There’s no need to “capture” it.

Alan Chapprll
Reply to  Gunga Din
November 26, 2019 10:41 am

Plant more trees !!!

Reply to  Sid Abma
November 25, 2019 3:40 pm

You can’t get people to spend their own money on your scam, so you want the president to spend other people’s money on it.

SidelGlobal, a solution that doesn’t work for a problem that doesn’t exist.

Reply to  MarkW
November 25, 2019 4:24 pm

That about sums it up.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Sid Abma
November 25, 2019 7:14 pm

The best solution is to let CO2 go free and get absorbed by plants that we can use to eat and build stuff with. Plants have been doing this for millions of years and they are very good at it, much better than humans with technology.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Sid Abma
November 25, 2019 7:14 pm

The best solution is to let CO2 go free and get absorbed by plants that we can use to eat and build stuff with. Plants have been doing this for millions of years and they are very good at it, much better than humans with technology.

John Tillman
November 25, 2019 6:55 am

The US coal industry is hardly a “fledgling”. PA anthracite mining took flight in about 1775.

The war on coal wasn’t just “so-called”, but a proud plank of the Obama-Biden programtic platform, waged with a vengeance once in office.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 25, 2019 9:03 am

The word should have been “struggling”…not fledgling.

John Tillman
Reply to  DocSiders
November 25, 2019 9:49 am

Maybe the author meant “flailing”. Or failing.

Reply to  John Tillman
November 25, 2019 11:48 am

or maybe the industry is actually a little bird LOL

Reply to  John Tillman
November 25, 2019 10:57 am

The author is a moron:

“More than 50 coal plants have shuttered since 2015, when Trump began campaigning to save the industry from former President Barack Obama’s so-called war on coal.” The title mentions 2016 but the article repeatedly speaks of 2015. He is conflating when Trump was elected and when he started his presidential campaign? Don’t forget, many plants were planned to be decommissioned well before that time so regular maintenance processes were ended knowing the timeline for shutdown.

Fledgling?? Get a dictionary.

“Most of the plants that have retired since 2015 have been larger than those that shuttered after that year, according to the report.” I think since and after would mean the same thing in this context. How is the same set different?? Am I confused?

And this is their “Tech” guy. The author point is Trump was incompetent in keeping his promises. He wasn’t even inaugurated until 2017! The numbers are from the beginning of 2015, 2 years BEFORE Trump was the President?? Ridiculous anti-Trump bigotry. Just my opinion.

BTW this reminds me of the news spin on 9-11. Every news outlet stated again and again that 9 months into Bush’s presidency he was incompetent in allowing 9-11 to happen, even after Clinton/Gore refused to allow a normal transition due to the attempted theft of the Presidency. But in reality it happened LESS THAN 8 MONTHS into Bush’s presidency. Go back and look at the reporting, you hear 9 month on every network, by every reporter, as the time into Bush’s first term repeated over and over, when it was roughly 7 month and 21 days. Less than 8 months!

I hold most posters at this site with high regard. Think back, those of you who are old enough, and you will realize that you probably accepted the 9 month lie without ever considering the reality that it was a lie. This is how the MSM manipulate the populace, even the sharper tools in the shed.

evil nick
Reply to  Drake
November 25, 2019 11:25 am

well said comment

Steve Keppel-Jones
Reply to  Drake
November 26, 2019 11:07 am

It’s also not clear that he understands the difference between “coal plant” and “coal [producing|shipping|storage] company”. The headline says companies, the article says plants. Maybe 50 of each have closed… but I’m guessing it’s more likely that he just thinks they are the same thing.

John Endicott
Reply to  Steve Keppel-Jones
December 2, 2019 10:06 am

Indeed. While 50 plants have closed (many of which were already scheduled to close before Trump ever took office) only 8 companies have filed for bankruptcy (according to CBS news). so the headline is misleading. Spend years demonizing an industry and putting up legal roadblocks (Obama’s war on coal) and then be shocked when it results in damage to companies that isn’t so easy to undo.

Reply to  Drake
November 26, 2019 1:50 pm

I remember reading a Reuters story that dealt with teen suicides. It studied teens “aged 13-25”.

Math, English, and Logic must not be a prerequisites for journalism students. And I’m damn sure we can rule out Ethics as well.

November 25, 2019 7:00 am

The President has labeled the democrats the do nothing party. He is partly right, they are the party of do nothing useful.
It would be interesting to know how many democrats and environmentalists are financially invested in new energy. And I always thought before regulations were imposed the cost to citizens a factor.

November 25, 2019 7:05 am

The obvious reason is fracking. Of course, Mencken warned us about the obvious. What am I missing?

Reply to  commieBob
November 25, 2019 10:09 am

Fracking is part of the equation. Another part is the high cost of new and increased regulatory requirements imposed by Obama’s EPA with the intent to drive coal out of the market

Snarling Dolphin
Reply to  commieBob
November 25, 2019 1:25 pm

Regulatory uncertainty for one. Renewables subsidies for two. And deep state regulatory inertia for three; many of these closures were set in motion years ago. Let’s see, radical environmentalist group lawyers, four. Behind the scenes natural gasser lobbyists, five. Sue and settle collusion scamming, six. Public school indoctrination programs, seven. Pandering pols, eight. Bogus economic analysis, nine. And activist judges, ten (yeah, I’m looking at you R. Brooke). That’s just off the top of my head but sure, fracking played a part too.

November 25, 2019 7:15 am

Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” was an attempt to regulate the entire electric power sector in the name of CO2. Instead of dispatching based on cost, it would have forced dispatch based on CO2 emissions and squeezed out coal and gas in favor of renewables. I thought the “E” in EPA stood for “Environmental” not “Energy.” It was a travesty.

Even so, coal plants continue to be shut down.

November 25, 2019 7:24 am

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Dr Deanster
Reply to  Glenda
November 25, 2019 9:45 am

It is a very bad thing. Eliminating coal puts a strain on other fossil fuels that are used for other purposes. Coal is pretty much good for one thing, and it is the best at it. I’ve always said we need to:

1) use coal and nuclear for electricity
2) use CNG for normal commuting vehicles and home heating and appliances
3) use oil for commercial transport and manufacturing.

Reserve wind and solar for individual use.

Robert J Doyle
November 25, 2019 7:30 am

I do not understand why the U.S. engineering and manufacturing companies have fallen behind the competition
from other countries. The U.S. built its first High Energy Low Emissions coal plant in 2012 {HELE}. Now we are being eclipsed.

Here is an overview document.
Page 2 has the meat. They are being built in Asia.
I guess the U.S. doesn’t need money that, isn’t falling off a truck.


Reply to  Robert J Doyle
November 25, 2019 10:35 am

I do not understand why the U.S. engineering and manufacturing companies have fallen behind the competition from other countries.

Rough guess is that natural gas is much cheaper in the US than elsewhere & attracting all the US research & construction. There is a 200 MW fluidized-bed coal plant built near me around the early 2000s and has performed well, but that was one of the last such plants built in the US.

Robert J Doyle
Reply to  beng135
November 25, 2019 3:09 pm


The HELE configurations improve the efficiency 20%.

Second, stop thinking like a person from a developed country.

In Africa, Asia and other multi billion population countries, there are no pipelines and no electric

Coal works at the village level.

China lends monies to these countries at a profit and not a give away like the U.S..

And the countries pay up!

Maybe, the CHICOMs are better capitalists then capitalists.

Reply to  Robert J Doyle
November 26, 2019 6:45 am

I addressed the comment on US situation. Your Africa, Asia, Chicoms, etc comment is irrelevant to my comment.

Reply to  Robert J Doyle
November 25, 2019 11:58 am

The two primary reasons why US engineering and manufacturing have fallen behind are government regulations and unions.

November 25, 2019 7:35 am

Well, duh. The US war against coal & coal companies had been started long before Trump. Most of it is inevitable as purposely suffocating EPA regs & NG from new fracking has made the coal plants (& mines) uneconomical to keep running.

Joel Snider
Reply to  beng135
November 25, 2019 9:10 am

Destruction is really the only thing progressives are good at.
Creation is really beyond them, except for value as a target.

November 25, 2019 7:35 am

I think it’s a tragedy that people don’t understand what is going on in Ukraine energy. Seems very 2-faced of Democrats to have used the EPA to shut down coal, yet use Ukraine energy companies like Burisma as a tool to profit from CO2 producing energy companies. $Billions$ of information have been invested by Democrats (John Kerry and Hunter Biden) to promote fracking in Ukraine. They (Burisma) even bought a useless American GREEN energy company in order to get access to U.S. fracking technology. Democrats continue to “sell out” American businesses for their Global Projects (Globalism) IMO. I’m sure they will use their “profiteering” from other countries against U.S. energy companies especially coal companies.

Just a thought.


November 25, 2019 7:36 am

Coal plants are shuttering because they are multi decade investments. Favorable administration in 2019 means nothing against the near certainty of another Obama type shiv in the back eventually. And don’t forget their customers. They are influenced to not purchase dirty electrons. Unless you are the Los Angeles DWP which is bust belching in three adjoining states.

Reply to  Rob_Dawg
November 25, 2019 9:43 am

LADWP can still virtue signal because they aren’t purchasing ‘dirty’ power in California. The customers don’t care because the ‘dirty’ power isn’t in their back yard.

David S
November 25, 2019 7:57 am

Utility companies are switching from coal to natural gas. Natural gas is a great fuel; clean burning, easy to use. And in a combined cycle plant efficiencies of nearly 60% are achievable. And thanks to fracking, natural gas is not too expensive either. But I think the big question is how much of it do we have? We need gas for home heating. Coal was used in the past for home heating, but they didn’t worry about the smoke in those days. Today it would be very difficult to heat homes that way. We have enough coal to fuel electric power plants for 100’s of years. But if we use gas instead we might use it all up and not have any left for home heating. That would be a problem.

Reply to  David S
November 25, 2019 9:41 am

NG will last as long as we can frack. Byproduct. We can also get NG off of rotting waste. Renewable, in that manner.

November 25, 2019 7:59 am

So the central fact is Trump hasn’t saved coal, or done anything substantial to save coal?

Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 10:00 am


Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Sheri
November 25, 2019 2:43 pm

Is that
No he has not
No you are wrong, he has.
in answer to a question like that rather than oui or non the French use Si to indicate the latter, unlike their verbs this bit of French is simple and clear.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
November 26, 2019 10:12 am

The answer is no, the central fact is not that Trump hasn’t saved coal since any rational human being would understand there is not a single factor involved in the decline of coal. The central fact is there are many factors which cannot all be addressed by a president. Of course, SOME people want a dictator, and in that case, we could save coal. Not that this would ever happen in a dictatorship, of course.

Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 10:15 am

“The closures have actually slowed since 2015 during former President Barack Obama’s final term in office, according to EIA data.”

“More than 50 coal plants have shuttered since 2015, when Trump began campaigning to save the industry from former President Barack Obama’s so-called war on coal. ” (i.e. many of these closures were before Jan 2017, and some after that were still before Trump could get regulations changed.)

Joel Snider
Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 11:05 am

No – your ‘green energy’ allies have continued to commit sabotage.

Ever get tired of being so self-serving, Grift?

Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 11:10 am


Please see my comments above. Sheri and Jeff are correct, my response is just more verbose so may be easier for a liberal to understand. With liberals, when they are on the wrong side of the facts, it is always about the “nuance”. I think I may have provided that for you.


Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 12:01 pm

Once again a leftists demonstrates that it has no concept of how federalism works, or the limits on the power of the presidency when you have a president that follows the constitution.

Reply to  MarkW
November 25, 2019 4:06 pm

…when you have a president that follows the constitution.

Bwahahaha! I doubt Donald Trump can even spell “Constitution”…let alone that he has any knowledge or care about what it says:

Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 12:11 pm

Donald Trump has worked pretty hard to save coal, but has faced ferocious opposition so it has been far from easy. All the wrestling over the EPA, for example, and court decisions blocking progress (POTUS does not have absolute power). Coal has also faced a resurgence in gas, which is a further headwind.

These things do take time, and I think the tide is turning in the USA. Worldwide, coal is holding its ground. For example, the BP Strategic Review of World Energy says that coal’s share of power generation is the same as in 2010. There’s hope for the world yet.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
November 25, 2019 11:17 pm

You deny other people the benefits coal brought to you and YOUR family? That smells of hypocrisy to me.

November 25, 2019 8:32 am

Coal plants are not coal producers or companies. They are electric producers and coal consumers.

November 25, 2019 8:35 am

At first, the fisheries were forced to get permits…then the permits were subject to regulations…and restrictions…and environmental compliance. And with each round of rules and regs, each layer of bureaucratic red tape, the permits were first leased or then sold to fewer and bigger fishing concerns until the vast majority of biomass landings permitted were held in just a few large corporations. Then, voila, a plant-based diet is best for us and the government, with a wave of their hand revoke the permits, compensate the corporations, save the oceans and the planet and we’re all vegans. Bravo

Matthew Schilling
November 25, 2019 9:01 am

I think people should take a look at the coal processing company Arq. It seems they have worked out a way to grind coal into a powder that is finer than the toner used in a laser printer. The result, they say, is a pure hydrocarbon that can be directly to liquid fuel. Their first efforts are aimed at cleaning up big, ugly piles of coal waste (vs. processing coal coming right out of the ground). I think they are sounding a hopeful note for coal.

Robert W Turner
November 25, 2019 9:13 am

Besides the arbitrary EPA regulations, there are market forces of extremely cheap natural gas and cheap Australian coal closer to the Asian market which the U.S. coal industry must contend with. If African nations get over the hump of creating an order based society and Asia continues to develop, then American coal will eventually see a resurgence, but I wouldn’t go betting on those contingencies.

Curious George
November 25, 2019 9:50 am

Natural Gas is cheap enough to prevent building of new coal burning power stations. I wonder why Alberta tar sands are cheaper still?

Reply to  Curious George
November 25, 2019 10:21 am

Alberta doesn’t have “tar sands”. We have oil sands. It isn’t very cheap. Natural Gas from Alberta doesn’t come from the oil sands.

Hocus Locus
November 25, 2019 10:02 am

Trump has tried.

Under Rick Perry the DOE proposed a 90-day rule to grant ‘market easement’ to electricity generation utilities able to stockpile 90 days’ worth of fuel on site. This is the first time in history that the President has declared that having fuel on site was a national priority, indeed with the original definition of National Security. Except, perhaps, the establishment of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Of course, Trump’s opponents claimed this move that would benefit coal and nuclear energy and no others, was a transparent ruse of favoritism.

Unfortunately FERC — an organization hissing and stinking of natural gas — declined that the grid as it is being built out has any reliability issues. Meanwhile there ever more are grid-feeding gas plants perched on the edge of long haul high pressure pipelines. The issue of rationing and cutting off consumers IF a shortage threatens these plants’ supply, is an unresolved issue. And the United States is one trivial terrorist attack away from cascading grid failure. Remember the Hindenberg!

FERC now under new management. Maybe they will reconsider.

November 25, 2019 10:08 am

Coal fell victim to the boom/bust oil cycles. This is their first bust. Since they generally spent money like there was no tomorrow, when the downturn started, there was no reserve to tap, nothing. It’s not surprising. Obama didn’t help, but eventually, coal was going to lose its “cheapest fuel out there” title and this would happen. It was just a matter of time. Plus, mines are huge employers and make a lot of noise when they close. Oil and gas seems to be many small companies and it may be the same number of companies and workers, but people don’t notice. Oil and gas has been like for decades. Oil and gas has boom and bust, but the “entitlement” feel of coal is not there. Layoffs are frequent, companies close, yet no outcry. I guess it’s that squeaky wheel thing.

November 25, 2019 10:31 am

In looking at the chart of US coal prices, the high was 130 in 2011.
Coal is now at 73.
Most industrial commodities have been declining since that huge peak.
In 2008 crude oil (WTI) soared to 147, now at the 52 level.
No point in producing anything if it is unprofitable.

michael hart
November 25, 2019 11:52 am

“Trump, meanwhile, is getting pushback from environmentalists and Democrats who object to his regulation rollbacks.”

Hmm… that’s torturing the English language slightly. Modern day environmentalists don’t “pushback”. They are firm believers in getting their retaliation in first.

November 25, 2019 11:56 am

The article and the headline both mention 50 coal companies being shut down. But the quote supporting the article mentions 50 power plants.

So unless each power plant is it’s own company, then the number of coal companies being shut down is less than 50.

John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
December 2, 2019 10:29 am

Exactly Mark. According to CBSnews the number of coal companies going bankrupt is: Eight.

some additional coal industry information, according to the EIA:

U.S. coal production increased 6.4% to 774.6 million short tons (MMst) from 2016 levels (which was 728.4 MMst)
U.S. coal consumption decreased 1.9%
The average # of employees at U.S. coal mines increased by 1,256
coal exports increased by 36.7 MMst

U.S. coal production decreased 2.4% to 756.2 MMst (down from 2017 but still up from 2016)
U.S. coal consumption decreased 4.0%
The average # of employees at U.S. coal mines increased by 532
coal exports increased by 18.7 MMst

So not quite the dire situation for the U.S. coal industry that the article headline would lead you to believe (average employment in coal is up two years running. While U.S. coal consumption – mainly from the electricity sector – have been decreasing, exports have been increasing. production is mixed but still overall up from 2016 numbers).

November 25, 2019 12:30 pm

While I fully support the pushback against the climate do-gooder fools, black lung disease is on the rise. Coal companies need to do much better with regard to their employees health and well-being. It is criminal negligence that air quality for mine workers is so bad.

Bruce Cobb
November 25, 2019 12:51 pm

Here in New Hampshire, we have a perfectly good coal power plant which had a huge upgrade about a decade or so ago which sits idle most of the time, being pressed into service only when absolutely needed (such as during a prolonged heat wave, or cold spell). What a waste! The Greenie monster is going to be tough to get rid of I suppose. We’ve still got that RGGI stupidity. Meanwhile the climate numpties and assorted eco-fascists have managed to halt the expansion of NG pipelines through Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as a high transmission line from Canada, powered by hydro. A lot of that was nimbyism, because the towers would be somewhat taller, but putting way taller bird choppers on ridgetops was OK, because “climate”. It’s enough to make one weep for the stupidity of humans.

November 25, 2019 2:06 pm

Is this simply a case of economics, being that natural gas is far cheaper than coal.

Is coal mined by deep mines as against for example Australia where our minerals are right on the e
surface thus open cut which is a lot cheaper.

Perhaps the solution is to not burn coal, lots of good stuff in coal, but extracting such materials may be a lot cheaper from oil.

While natural gas is cheap then coal for the time being is on the back burner. It is a stand by fuel for the future.


William Astley
Reply to  Michael
November 25, 2019 2:56 pm

Coal has some natural advantages over NGL.

Create a scenario, where there is no atmospheric CO2 issues (anthropogenic emissions did not cause the CO2 rise or planetary temperature issues (the rise in CO2 did not cause the temperature rise). Under this scenario there is no temperature or CO2 issues with burning hydrocarbons or coal.

With a neutral scenario what are the advantages of coal vs natural gas?

Coal has a significant transportation advantage and cost advantage for developing countries that do not have local natural gas and cannot afford the infrastructure for natural gas. Say most African countries and many other developing countries.

Coal is a solid that has a great deal of energy per kg and can be transported via truck or rail.

Natural gas requires a large amount of energy to transport. A long distance pipeline burns roughly 30% of the transport gas. Pipelines are expensive.

It takes a large amount of energy to liquify and then gasify the natural gas. Roughly 30%. LNG facilities are very expensive. Again, this gives an advantage to coal over natural gas particularly for developing countries.

NGL is the clear winner over coal if there is close local cheap source of natural gas and/or for developed countries in highly populated regions based on pollution.

Reply to  William Astley
November 26, 2019 5:31 am

What is the “neutral” infrastructure building rate?

Neutral permit attribution?

It just isn’t a thing. There is always at least some politics and some energy strategy.

November 25, 2019 2:41 pm

EPA made the bogus declaration that CO2 is a “pollutant”. CO2 is one of the building blocks of life and not a “pollutant”. The EPA is overdue for closure as a useful institution acting without supervision or control. Trump should abolish it. It would not be missed.

November 25, 2019 4:09 pm

A few idiotic states have and are forcing the closure of coal power plants, and the reduction in the use of coal has triggered the closure of some coal producers. Neither this, nor the closures of plants and producers during the Obama Presidency is the fault of Trump. Trump’s actions, however, means that the feds won’t force power plants in other states to close as well, keeping many coal producers in business.

He couldn’t save all the producers, but he is saving the industry.

Steve Z
November 25, 2019 4:25 pm

Despite the fact that CO2 is not really a pollutant, the EPA should not be abolished, since it has (through common-sense regulations) significantly reduced the emissions of real pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon MONoxide, nitrous oxides, and particulates, which have contributed to the air being much cleaner over American cities than comparably-sized cities in China and even Europe. The EPA has used a free-market approach to limiting emissions, where industries that emit less than their “permitted” amount can sell credits to those emitting over their permitted limits, which the cleaner industries can use to offset the price of their pollution control equipment. Using the EPA to regulate CO2 is an aberration from its original mission, since CO2 is not a pollutant, and is necessary for plant life.

Even during the relatively friendly Trump presidency, coal-fired power plants find themselves temporarily at a competitive disadvantage compared to natural gas, due to plentiful supply from the Marcellus and Utica Shale fields, and also natural gas that is a by-product from oil fracking in West Texas and North Dakota. It is true that natural gas must be compressed into pipelines for transport, but coal must also be shipped by railroad, which also consumes fossil fuel for transport (usually diesel fuel in locomotives). Natural gas also burns much more cleanly than coal, producing much less sulfur oxides or particulates than coal. A combined-cycle plant using natural gas is much more efficient (usually over 60%) than a coal-fired plant (about 30 to 35%).

While it is estimated that the USA has about a 400-year supply of coal, the total reserves of natural gas obtained from fracking may be less. If natural gas becomes scarce in the future (and no further reserves are found), coal may become more economical in the long term.

nayyer ali
November 25, 2019 5:47 pm

Coal is declining for a simple reason. It is no longer low cost energy. Much of it has been replaced by cheaper natural gas. In addition, coal plants pollute more than any other source of energy. At this point, in windy or sunny regions, wind and solar are cheaper than coal. Electricity generated by coal dropped 3% last year globally, this is not just an American phenomenon. China and India are scaling back their coal plans because of terrible pollution in their cities. Peak coal worldwide happened in 2013. We are now on the downside of that, and in the US being a coal producer is a good way to lose your shirt.

John Endicott
Reply to  nayyer ali
November 26, 2019 10:54 am

Coal is declining for a simple reason

it isn’t, you know. Worldwide coal production increased last year (and the year before) led by China and India. and 2019 is shaping up to be a record high year for global coal production.

China and India are scaling back their coal plans because of terrible pollution in their cities

yeah, about that. sorry to break it to you but China *increased* it’s coal production last year by 2.9% and it’s coal imports by 4%. and India increased it’s coal production by 5.3%. so much for scaling back. It’s only in the west where politicians put up barriers (and subsidize the competition) in order to “fight climate change” that coal is seeing any decreases. That has little to do with the economics of coal and everything to do with the politics of the west.

nayyer ali
November 25, 2019 5:56 pm

If we could have an energy grid that doesnt lower our standard of living, creates no pollution, costs less than a fossil fuel based system, and doesnt put billions of dollars into the hands of foreign governments that are hostile to us, wouldnt we want it? If wind/solar/storage/EV’s can do that what’s wrong with switching over? I live in LA, and the thought of never having smog again is rather appealing. We are very close to the tipping point on costs, I have solar on my roof cause it saves me money, and I drive a hybrid for the same reason. Costs are dropping every year, by 2030 the economic case is going to be a no-brainer no matter where you live.

Reply to  nayyer ali
November 25, 2019 8:14 pm

nayyer ali

If wind/solar/storage/EV’s can do that what’s wrong with switching over?

Problem is, without real energy production subsidizing wind and solar and other taxpayers paying for “your” solar modules and California’s forced-economy political schemes mandating energy buy-backs and mandates, there would be “no wind/solar/storage/EV” systems at all in the real world.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  nayyer ali
November 26, 2019 3:46 am

You are a hopelessly brainwashed and delusional troll. Get a clue.

Reply to  nayyer ali
November 26, 2019 4:11 am

If the cost is so low, what are all the subsidies for?

John Endicott
Reply to  nayyer ali
November 26, 2019 10:43 am

If we could have an energy grid that doesnt lower our standard of living, creates no pollution, costs less than a fossil fuel based system, and doesnt put billions of dollars into the hands of foreign governments that are hostile to us, wouldnt we want it?

Sounds great, what is this unicorn you speak of.

If wind/solar/storage/EV’s can do that what’s wrong with switching over?

If wind/solar/storage/EV’s can do that government wouldn’t need to subsidize wind/solar/storage/EV’s as the market would be willingly adopting it in droves. You see businesses and people, contrary to what you might believe, are (in general) not all that stupid. if they can get their energy cheaper, easier and more cleanly, they’d do so all on their own.

I have solar on my roof cause it saves me money, and I drive a hybrid for the same reason

And how much money did the government chip in for your solar and your hybrid so you could “save money”? Way more than you’ve “saved”.

Costs are dropping every year

If costs are “dropping” like you claim then why is it everywhere where subsides and tax credits are reduced/eliminated sees a massive drop in sales? without being able to suck on the government teat, wind/solar/storage/EVs are *not* cost effective.

Steven Mosher
November 25, 2019 9:42 pm

told you guys years ago coal was dead (walking around zombie like)
you had a shot at promoting Nukes and putting all your weight behind that.

but no.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
November 25, 2019 11:09 pm

told you guys years ago coal was dead (walking around zombie like) …

You’re so dreaming Mosh, claims are not facts, here are the facts:

BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019

Coal – Total World Production:

Million tonnes oil equivalent
2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018
3410.0 | 3409.8 | 3601.4 | 3866.5 | 3909.1 | 3978.0 | 3966.0 | 3860.9 | 3660.8 | 3755.0 | 3916.8

Global coal production growth rate in 2018 = 4.3%
Global Net coal production growth from 2007 to 2017 = 1.3%

Coal production is almost back to its 2013 peak and will most likely exceed it this year making 2019 or else 2020 that highest Coal production year ever. On page 6 you can see that the brief flirtation with uneconomic non-delivering “renewables” (i.e. unaffordable unreliables) experiment has come to an end, and China and Asia as a whole have switched back to coal consumption. While Africa’s not much interested in anything else.

Economics and not figments of ideologies determine what’s a marketable resource and what’s time and money wasting vaporware.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Steven Mosher
November 25, 2019 11:09 pm

It is remarkable what Govn’t policy can do to a commodity. Next is meat…oh wait! We have here in Australia, Burger King promoting grass burgers. I prefer my meat burger grass fed too.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
November 25, 2019 11:37 pm

Then there’s this, from yesterday:

Chinese investment in clean energy is plummeting

WNM | Nov 25, 2019 at 1:02 PM

Beijing, November 25 (WNM) – After benefiting from generous subsidies for more than a decade, China slashed subsidies for solar panel projects in the middle of last year and reduced them for wind, resulting in an abrupt shift, writes the Financial Times
( ).

The change in policy is reflected in the renewable energy sector: Chinese investment in clean energy are falling – from $ 76 billion in the first half of 2017 to $ 29 billion in the first half of this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

There’s a real “zombie” Mosh, the term ‘graveyard-spiral’ springs to mind.

The ‘investment’ in unaffordables was a loser, so that experiment is coming to an end, as they’re getting back into coal plant building in a very big way.

That’s some good news for life on earth, eh? And in only 11 years humans will be gone too – Win-Win!

John Endicott
Reply to  WXcycles
November 26, 2019 10:28 am

Thanks for bringing facts to the table WXcycles. sadly it’s wasted on the drive-by king, but much appreciated by the rest of us all the same.

John Endicott
Reply to  Steven Mosher
November 26, 2019 10:34 am

told you guys years ago coal was dead (walking around zombie like)
you had a shot at promoting Nukes and putting all your weight behind that

Why do you assume it’s an either or? The world energy mix is comprised of several different fuel sources: coal, hydro, nat. gas, nukes, oil, wind, solar, etc. Nothing wrong with using the one that’s best suited for the purpose at an economically reasonable price. In some places that will be nuclear, in others (as China has shown with their massive appetite for energy) that will be coal.

November 25, 2019 9:47 pm

But with producers shutting down, where will I be able to buy a (small) lump of coal for someone’s stocking?

John Endicott
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
November 26, 2019 10:36 am

China, as they’re the producers of 45% of the world coal production.

November 26, 2019 12:46 pm

a billionaire failed to maintain his fortune by donating millions to Trump while he screwed his “low information” employees? #Socking!

but the bright side for die-hard Trump readers of this blog: bargains on West Virginia toxic waste dumps!

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