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An In-Depth Look Into the U.S. Coal Industry

Though it’s been in jeopardy for years, things are not looking good for one of America’s most historically essential industries.


U.S. employment in coal mining peaked in the early 1920s, when there were roughly 863,000 coal miners. Since then, however, due to technological advancements and environmental concerns, the industry has drastically shrunk. As of 2016, the average number of coal mining employees in the U.S. was at 50,500.


Additionally, according to the 2015 U.S. Annual Coal Report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, surface coal mining operations only provided between 26,000 and 37,000 jobs in the United States.


Despite many believing that President Obama was leading a charge on the coal industry, the market has been steadily decreasing no matter the administration.


“In fact, coal plants are retiring at the exact same rate under President Trump as they were under President Obama,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.


According to The Atlantic, Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor, and one of the world’s richest men, gave $30 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.


“The war on coal has never been led by Washington,” he said. “It has been led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy, and by communities, cities, and states that want to protect public health.”


American energy is constantly changing, so it’s not all bad, but it’s much more concerning when it impacts the livelihood of American workers. When it comes to home energy, natural gas was essentially being wasted just a few decades ago. In fact, the average American home consumes 40% less natural gas than it did in the 1970s.


“There’s certainly not a reliability crisis,” said Josiah Neeley, director of energy policy at the conservative R Street Institute. “And even if there was, the proposed rule doesn’t address any of the issues with reliability that are out there.”


According to ABC News, the rollback of the Clean Power Plan is being seen as a revitalization of the coal industry, as well as a win for anti environmental advocates.


The Clean Power Plan called for a 32% decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.


The decision to repeal the CPP has further polarized the government and the country.


“The Clean Power Plan is the poster child for bad regulation,” said Paul Bailey, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE). “It is illegal, expensive, and ineffective, and we commend Administrator Pruitt for repealing it.”


Conversely, Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists released a statement saying that the current administration has “thumbed its nose and science, and now at the law.”




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