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