This One Chart Shows The Decline Of The Coal Industry

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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America’s coal production fell by 36 percent over just the last year and the country’s coal industry is in serious decline, as shown by a chart published Tuesday by The Washington Post.

The Post cites federal data from the Energy Information Administration showing the production drop and analogizing the problems of Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company, which declared bankruptcy last week.

Peabody’s bankruptcy is already causing local economies based on coal to face economic ruin.

Coal mines lost 7,500 jobs last year alone, according to federal data. Much of the blame for the job losses is targeted at federal regulations aimed at preventing global warming, which caused coal power plants to go bankrupt, resulting in a sharp decline in the price of coal. A study last April found the coal industry lost 50,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012 due to regulations and cheap natural gas. The “coal country” of Appalachia has been economically devastated and has very few job options for the now unemployed workers.

Even President Barack Obama has recognized this and stated that opposition to his policies by coal miners and people in Appalachia is “perfectly legitimate,” during a December interview with National Public Radio.

The situation for coal miners would likely get worse if Obama’s Clean Power Plan is fully implemented. The Energy Information Administration predicts the plan would more than double the number of coal plants shutting down over the next five years. The shutdowns have a cascading effect, causing coal production to collapse by more than 30 percent over the next decade.

The Obama administration responded by offering a mere $14.5 million in federal funding for programs to retrain out-of-work coal miners, after imposing regulations that greatly hampered the American coal industry.

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