Mining Declining

This chart from the United States Energy Information Administration graphically shows the decline in coal production in the United States.  It shows a 24% decrease from 2019 to 2020.  The change is even more dramatic in West Virginia.  Other data from the same agency (not shown on this graph) shows that West Virginia had a 28% decrease in the same period.

            The agency attributed the most recent decline to “less demand for coal internationally and less U.S. electric power sector demand for coal.”  It further attributed the decline in production to price competition from natural gas for electricity generation and a pandemic induced lower demand for coal.  There were also some mines that were idled for long periods as a pandemic related safety measure.

            All is not bleak for the coal industry.  Production during 2021 has increased as demand for electricity increases.  The agency offered no opinion on whether this was a reversal of a long term decline or a short term increase as things return to normal after the pandemic.