RPT-COLUMN-Trump may not be able to save U.S. coal miners – by John Kemp (Reuters U.S. – Novmeber 10, 2016)


LONDON – Nov 10, 2016 – Donald Trump’s election has thrown an apparent lifeline to beleaguered coal producers but he may not be able to do much to revive the fortunes of the industry. The U.S. coal industry has been a victim of the shale revolution and the enormous quantities of cheap gas that have been unleashed by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

There is not much a future Trump administration can do to protect coal producers, who have mostly been the victim of economic forces rather than politics and the Obama administration’s “war on coal”.

U.S. coal production has fallen by almost a quarter from 1,171 million short tons in 2008 to just 897 million short tons in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Electricity produced from coal declined by nearly 32 percent between 2008 and 2015 and coal’s share of total power generation has sunk from almost 50 percent to just one-third.

Record warmth during the winter of 2015/16 cut coal consumption even further and proved the final straw for many mining companies (“U.S. coal industry hopes for respite after perfect storm”, Reuters, Oct. 18 ).

Coal consumption by power producers during the winter of 2015/16 fell by another 20 percent compared with the winter of 2014/15.

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