Coal's share of markets is shrinking and will continue to dwindle over the next few decades, but many coal-fired power plants decades of life left in them, and Malewitz reports U.S. coal companies are expanding their markets overseas. While the oldest coal plants are closing and new ones aren't likely to be built without carbon-capture technology that is not yet economical, this trend was underway before the EPA guidelines were announced. Cheap natural gas is making coal less attractive in comparison.
Utilities' shift from coal to gas will be a slow process, experts say. Some utilities can't afford to make the switch yet, Malewitz reports. And even though U.S. coal use is declining, exports are surging, particularly to Asia. Exports have doubled since 2006, increasing by 20 percent from 2010 to 2011. (Read more)