Last year, coal production fell to the lowest level since 1978, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday.
“Last year’s production was the lowest amount of coal produced in the United States since 1978, when a coal miners’ strike halted most of the country’s coal production from December 1977 to March 1978,” the EIA wrote.
Coal production in 2019 was just 7 percent lower overall than production in 2018; however, that figure is part of a larger trend of coal production easing since production peaked in 2008. Production is expected to decline again next year.
“Weekly coal production estimates ... show the United States is on pace for an even larger decline in 2020, falling to production levels comparable with those in the 1960s,” when coal production was roughly about two-thirds of what it is today.
Despite efforts from the Trump administration to bolster the coal industry, market forces have pushed utilities to cheaper, cleaner forms of electricity, with many utilities opting to retire coal-fired power plants early.