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Coal mining in the United States is a major industry, and reached an all-time high of 1.06 Gt (1.17 billion short tons) in 2008, being mined in 25 states. The U.S. was a net exporter of coal in 2008, with the surplus of exports over imports equalling 4% of the total mined. In 2010, coal exports increased to 7.5% of coal produced in the U.S. As of 2013, while domestic coal consumption for power production was being displaced by natural gas, production for export to Asia from strip mines utilizing thick deposits in the western United States in locations such as the Powder River Basin in northern Wyoming and Southern Montana was increasing.
|Coal in the US (Mt)|
|Production||Net export||Net available|
Coal mining has been roughly equal in volume (Mt) between 2005-2011 in the US. Coal available for own use as Mt was 91% in 2011 compred to 2005, which may reflect less coal dependancy in the energy supply. One should also notice that the specific net calorific value for coal in the US was 0.541 toe/tonne in 2011 and 0.632 toe/tonne in 2004/2005. This means that less energy rich mines are used than earlier. 2011/2005-ratio is 86%.
Total United States: 1,437,174
As of 2013, five coal export terminals were in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest. They were scheduled to be supplied by strip mines in the Powder River Basin. The export market is China and other Asian nations. Like the Keystone Pipeline the building of the terminals raise environmental concerns with respect to global warming.
More than 90 percent of the annually-mined coal in the United States is used by the US electrical power industry. Since 2000, the growth of coal-fired power generation has slowed considerably from what it was in the late 1990s.
As of 2012 coal accounted for 37% of electricity production in the United States, down from 50% in 2005. In 2006, there were 1,493 coal-powered generating units at electrical utilities across the US, with total nominal capacity of 335.8 GW (compared to 1024 units at nominal capacity of 278 GW in 2000). Actual power generated from coal in 2006 was 227.1 GW (1.991 trillion kilowatt-hours per year), the highest in the world and still slightly ahead of China (1.95 trillion kilowatt-hours per year) at that time. In 2000, US production of electricity from coal was 224.3 GW (1.966 trillion kilowatt-hours per year). In 2006, the US consumed 1,026,636,000 short tons (931,349,000 metric tons) or 92.3% of coal mined for electricity generation.
According to International Energy Agency (IEA) statistics, the energy value of coal in the United States in 2010 was only 85% compared to 2009. This change should be noticed in comparison of the national coal data as Mt or as TWh. Based on the big difference in the coal energy content it is recommended to confirm the table data from the official national statistics. Average annual changes in specific caloric values are small but do occur, e.g., Australia 0.689 (2009) and 0.614 (2008) and Russia 0.599 (2010) and 0.545 (2005). The lower the energy value, the more coal mining and fuel transportation is needed for the same energy quantity. New mining areas may also influence specific emissions such as sulphur emissions per TWh. According to the IEA, net calorific values of coal in the US were:
(toe: tonnes oil equivalent)
|Coal in the US |
|Mtoe = 11.63 TWh|
Confirm from the national statistics.
|This section requires expansion. (July 2013)|
Concern about global warming in the US  - especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore's receipt of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his promotion of belief in climate change - temporarily increased public opposition to new coal-fired power plants. Simultaneously with these events, the anti-coal movement - both in the U.S. and internationally, especially in the UK and Australia - had made coal-fired power projects more politically costly, and spurred further shifts in public opinion against coal-fired power and anti-coal campaigns.
In a 2004 effort to counter this trend, many large coal mining companies, electric utilities, and railroads in the U.S. launched a high-profile marketing campaign aimed at convincing the American public that coal-fired power can be environmentally sustainable. However, some environmentalists condemned this campaign as a "greenwashing" attempt to use environmentalist rhetoric to disguise what they call "the inherently environmentally unsustainable nature of coal-fired power generation". For example, Australian environmental activist Tim Flannery asserts "Coal can't be clean".