Can coal make a comeback?


Not long ago, the US coal industry was thriving, with global coal prices at record highs along with the stock prices of US coal companies. By the end of 2015, however, the industry had collapsed. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order in March 2017, rescinding Obama-era environmental regulations to help boost the coal industry.

Researchers at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy published a paper exploring why the coal industry collapsed, and whether coal production and employment can recover after President Trump’s executive order. They found that President Trump’s executive order on coal may be able to slow the pace of decline in US coal employment, but only if natural gas prices increase.

Can Coal Make a Comeback? uses economic modeling to determine what impact Trump’s order will have on the industry. Under the best case scenario for US coal producers, the report projects a modest recovery to 2013 levels of just under one billion tons a year. Under the worst case scenario, output falls to 600 million tons a year. “These findings indicate that President Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations will not materially improve economic conditions in America’s coal communities,” the report says.

The Center on Global Energy Policy provides independent, balanced, data-driven analysis to help policymakers navigate the complex world of energy.

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