Report: US coal exports raise EU carbon emissions

In the process, U.S. carbon emissions will likely fall 2.4 percent this year, Reuters said, citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

On Capitol Hill, Democrats and the Obama administration have rejected Republican claims that an aggressive regulatory regime is causing coal’s downturn.

Instead, Democrats have pointed to EIA data that show market prices have led power producers to switch from coal to natural gas.

However, EIA noted in its short-term energy outlook published this month that natural-gas prices for power plants rose 34 percent between April and August. It projected a 10 percent decline in natural gas and 9 percent rise in coal burned by power plants in 2013.

Republicans contend market forces are just one part of the coal industry’s struggles.

The GOP pins much of the blame on the administration. Republicans say that the first-ever limits on mercury and other air toxins emissions, as well as the first-ever proposed greenhouse gas emission limits for new fossil fuel-fired power plants, have engendered too much uncertainty.

To that end, the Republican-controlled House passed a package of bills last week titled the “Stop the War on Coal Act.” Largely viewed as an election-season messaging vote against President Obama’s energy policies, it would curtail or end several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules Republicans say harm the coal industry.