US president Donald Trump promised he would save the country’s coal industry, but it’s not working out that way.
The rate of US coal production has plunged dramatically in 2020, the latest data from the US government Enegy Information Administration shows, and the official body now predicts a huge 29 per cent fall in coal production in 2020 to the lowest levels since the 1960s.
The EIA published on Tuesday an update that showed coal production in 2019 fell 7 per cent to its lowest level since 1978, when a coal miners’ strike stopped production for more than three months. The fall in coal production reflects the previously announced lowest level of coal fired generation in the country’s grid in 42 years.
The situation is going to get worse in 2020. “Weekly coal production estimates …. show the United States is on pace for an even larger decline in 2020, falling to production levels comparable with those in the 1960s,” it says.
The EIA blames the decline of US coal on less demand for coal internationally and less generation from U.S. coal-fired power plants. U.S. coal exports through May 2020 were 29% lower than during the first five months of 2019.
“Estimated U.S. coal production through mid-July 2020 is 27% lower than the average annual 2019 output, and EIA expects these reductions in production to persist during the remainder of the year. In the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts a 29% decline in U.S. coal production in 2020.
Wyoming is the biggest coal producer in the US, accounting for 39% of U.S. coal production in 2019. But coal production recently stopped in Kansas in 2017 and Arkansas in 2018, and Arizona stopped producing coal in the fall of 2019 when the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station and adjacent Kayenta coal mine that supplied it both closed.