Friday, April 20, 2012

Coal industry looks to exports to shore up its future

After the Environmental Protection Agency announced stricter regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, officials in coal-producing states and industry representatives said the agency was ending the coal industry. Environmentalists hailed the proposal as the end of coal, or at least as we have known it. But experts are saying "coal may not be in quite as much trouble as its supporters sometimes claim, or as its enemies might wish," Jim Malewitz of Stateline reports. (Stateline photo)

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)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Im blogging for a history project and i'm on the side of the coal economy because of the money it brings in and the amount of workers it brings in.