Coal is an abundant domestic resource, providing an affordable and reliable source of electricity for American families, businesses, and neighborhoods. High grade coal is also necessary for steelmaking, which is a vital building block of our nation’s infrastructure. With more than 260 billion tons of demonstrated recoverable coal reserves, America’s recoverable coal reserves exceed that of any other country on the globe. Unlike renewable forms of energy, coal is economical and cost efficient without government subsidies.
In fact, America’s domestic coal reserves represent over a quarter of the world’s total coal supply. The energy potential of that coal is roughly equivalent to all known oil reserves on the planet. As the U.S. currently consumes just over 1 billion tons of coal each year, domestic coal resources stand ready to fuel this nation’s ever-growing energy appetite for more than 200 years into the future.
Coal production also provides steady, high-wage jobs across America and for the men and women who work in the coal fields within the twenty-six states where coal is mined. Coal production also helps sustain jobs for those individuals who manufacture the heavy equipment the coal industry depends on, those who provide both the steel and high-tech components that goes into that equipment, those who generate coal-fired electricity, and those who provide the sophisticated technical and engineering support that is such an integral part of coal mining today. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, America’s domestic coal mining industry was responsible for 154,000 direct jobs and over 400,000 indirect jobs in 2008.
Finally, coal and coal by-products are used in the production of numerous goods and materials we all use every day. In many respects, coal is the backbone of the American economy.
Coal gives us affordable energy
Ninety–four percent of the coal consumed in the U.S. is used to generate electricity and currently, nearly half of the electricity consumed in America today is produced from coal.
During the first three quarters of 2010, more electricity was generated from coal than from natural gas and nuclear power combined, which is a good thing for the American consumer. In 2009, the cost of electricity generated from coal was at least forty percent less expensive than electricity generated from natural gas.
There are currently 1,570 coal-fueled units that did take or could take coal in 2009 in the United States, producing electricity for all states in the nation except for Rhode Island, Idaho, and Vermont. In 36 states, coal is used to generate more than 25 percent of the electricity consumed there; and in 22 states, coal is used to generate more than 50 percent of the electricity consumed. The ten states that generate the most electricity from coal are Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, and North Carolina.
Based on our nation’s average electricity usage, every American consumes about 20 pounds of coal every day. On average, Americans pay approximately six cents per kilowatt-hour for coal-fired electricity, making it one of the lowest electricity rates found in any industrialized nation on the planet.