In the mid-1990s, coal was not king, but today, it may be taking back its throne. Back then, natural gas was at center stage as the preferred energy source of environmentally conscious Americans everywhere.
But in 1998, a slight, yet significant, change occurred. According to a U.S. Department of Energy study, “The trend towards reduced levels of consumer coal stocks was reversed.” This change coupled with continuing low prices for coal brought it back to the forefront, revitalizing the coal industry to this day.
For example, more than half of America’s electricity is now generated from coal. Coal mines that had been shut down in the 1990s are reopening, and former workers are going back to the mines and getting back to work.
America has a lot of coal to be mined. With 274 billion tons of recoverable reserves, coal is 39 times more abundant than natural gas and 54 times more abundant than oil.
Coal is also becoming safer for the environment. Because of efforts by the coal-based electricity industry, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have dropped.
The most recent study on these emissions shows that between 1980 and...