America’s coal industry is doing its part to increase U.S. competitiveness abroad while producing jobs and economic benefits at home.
In 2012, the U.S. exported 114 million metric tons of coal (126 million short tons) — 12 percent more than the previous high set in 1981.
Historically, America’s coal exports have been dominated by the sale of high value metallurgical coal used in steel making. But recently, exports of steam coal used to fuel power plants have begun rising rapidly, creating significant new economic benefits for the United States. For instance, an August 2012 study by Energy Policy Research Foundation, Inc., estimated that the economic value from exports of 50 million to 100 million short tons per year of low cost steam coal from the Powder River Basin would yield a net economic gain to the national economy between $40 and $60 per short ton, for a total of $2 billion to $6 billion dollars per year.
Port and coal mine expansions now under way to support the growing export trade stand to create thousands of construction and permanent jobs in all regions of the United States, along with on-going tax revenues and support for local economies.
In February 2013, the Bipartisan Policy Center issued its report and recommendations on “America’s Energy Resurgence.” The comprehensive report concluded that global coal demand supports an expansion of U.S. coal export capacity. The Center recommended against restricting coal exports because doing so would impair our nation’s ability to reduce the trade deficit and balance of payments. The report conclded that other countries will fill the gap if U.S. exports are limited and that current permitting processes provide ample assurances to identify and address local environmental concerns linked to construction and operation of new export facilities.
—President Barack Obama, January 27, 2010
—2011 National Export Strategy, U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee