US Coal Exports
Exports Economic Contributions Report

America’s coal industry is doing its part to increase U.S. competitiveness abroad while producing jobs and economic benefits at home.

In 2016, the U.S. exported 60.3 million short tons of coal. (This was less than half the export record of 125.8 million tons exported in 2012, when global coal demand, particularly from Asia, was surging.) U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasted that 2017 exports will rise to 71.6 million tons as market conditions change and other international sources of coal face constrictions.

Coal Imports and Exports Chart

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

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.


Read More:


U.S. Coal Exports: National and State Economic Contributions (Ernst & Young, May 2013)

Coal Exports Facts and Figures

The Economic Value of Coal Exports (EPRINC)

Bipartisan Policy Center Energy Policy Initiative

Economic Impact of Increased Production at Spring Creek Mine

“It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation’s vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation’s geopolitical security.”

– Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, March 28, 2017

Boosting America's Economy

“Historically, U.S. companies seeking to expand their revenues focused first on increasing their number and share of U.S customers. For years, this focus served as a winning strategy for many of the most successful U.S. companies. Today, global economic trends make clear that successful companies are those that reach and sell to consumers outside U.S. borders and around the globe.”

—2011 National Export Strategy, U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee

  • “The fact that we’re no longer in the age of energy scarcity – that we’re in the age of energy abundance – positions the United States in a totally different place. This gives access to affordable, reliable energy in the United States, and gives the U.S. a major competitive advantage.”
    – Dave Banks, Special Assistant to President Donald Trump for International Energy, June 2017
  • “It is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation. Moreover, the prudent development of these natural resources is essential to ensuring the Nation's geopolitical security.”
    – Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, March 28, 2017
  • “Historically, U.S. companies seeking to expand their revenues focused first on increasing their number and share of U.S customers. For years, this focus served as a winning strategy for many of the most successful U.S. companies. Today, global economic trends make clear that successful companies are those that reach and sell to consumers outside U.S. borders and around the globe.”
    — 2011 National Export Strategy, U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee
  • “Federal regulatory agencies should not require climate change studies in the course of their permitting processes for proposed facilities. Coal will be consumed around the world regardless of U.S. trade policy. The only question is whether the coal is produced here in North America, where environmental standards are high, or elsewhere.”
    — U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, January 7, 2014
  • “At present 19% of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, lack access to electricity and on New Policy Scenario projections there will still be 1 billion people without such access in 2030. To meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015, 395 million more people need access to electricity. There is a strong correlation between electrification and improvement in the United Nations’ Human Development Index.”
    — International Energy Agency, Coal Industry Advisory Board
  • “Access to electricity is strongly correlated with every measurable indicator of human development”
    — Berkeley Science Review, 2008

Count on Coal

National Mining Association

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