Coal’s comeback – by Hoppy Kercheval (Metro News: Voice of West Virginia – August 25, 2017)

The anti-coal movement and its advocates in the previous administration in Washington tried their best to snuff out the industry and, in the process, ruin the livelihoods of miners and destroy communities. President Obama’s executive orders and his EPA’s regulatory stranglehold nearly brought coal to its knees.

When confronted with allegations of their “war on coal,” the response was that market conditions and competition from abundant, clean burning natural gas were actually the reasons. Clearly, the gas boom has been a huge factor, but a funny thing has happened since Obama left office and the regulatory boot has been lifted off of coal’s throat—it’s coming back.

The National Mining Association reports, “From the 2nd quarter of 2016 to the same period this year, coal production rose almost 17 percent.” The biggest jump has been in the production of steel-making metallurgical coal from Central Appalachia, where 57 mines have opened (or reopened) in the last fiscal year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that coal will move slightly back ahead of natural gas this year as the leading energy source for electricity generation (coal 32%, natural gas 31%).

Coal exports are on the rise, up 60% for the first five months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to EIA. European leaders may publicly denounce the Trump administration for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, but down at the loading docks massive amounts of coal are coming onshore.

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