An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Between the recession and restrictions on the burning of steam coal to generate electricity, consumption of coal in the United States fell 20 percent from more than 1.1 billion tons in 2008 to just under 900 million tons last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
That drop of 230 million tons is offset by the increase of 1 billion tons of coal consumption in China in the same period, as Chinese coal consumption topped 3.9 billion tons in 2012.
China’s consumption was up 33 percent in those four years. India saw a 25 percent increase in coal use in those four years as it is now the world’s No. 3 consumer of coal at 800 million tons in 2012.
These two markets present an opportunity for the miners in West Virginia. To be sure, China and India have large coal reserves that they are exploiting. But U.S. exports of coal are up and nearly half those exports come from West Virginia.
But wait. There’s more. Japan abandoned nuclear power following the 2011 tsunami that melted down the Fukushima power plants. Germany just opened its first coal-fired power plant in eight years.
There is also less…