U. S. coal pro­duc­tion at 30- year low

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

wash­ing­ton » U. S. coal pro­duc­tion has fallen to its low­est level in nearly 30 years as cheaper sources of power and stricter en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions re­duce de­mand, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary govern­ment fig­ures. Are­port re­leased Fri­day by the U. S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion es­ti­mates 900 mil­lion short tons of coal­were pro­duced last year, a drop from about 1 bil­lion short tons in 2014. That’s the low­est vol­ume since 1986.

The slump has led to bank­rupt­cies and lay­offs at min­ing com­pa­nies, but the ef­fects have rip­pled out­ward, stress­ing state bud­gets and forc­ing lay­offs in other sec­tors, such as rail­roads, which are trans­port­ing less coal.

Power plants are in­creas­ingly re­ly­ing on cheaper and cleaner- burn­ing nat­u­ral gas to pro­vide elec­tric­ity and com­ply with reg­u­la­tions aimed at re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion that con­trib­utes to cli­mate change.

Last year’s drop in de­mand hit hard­est in the cen­tral Ap­palachian basin, where pro­duc­tion plunged 40 per­cent below its an­nual av­er­age from 2010 through 2014.

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