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Temporary Rebound Expected For Coal Mining in 2014

Michael Smith, Getty Images

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. coal mining industry is projected to see a modest and short-lived rebound in 2014, driven by more production in Western states after two successive years of declines.

The Energy Information Administration yesterday forecast a 36 million ton increase in coal production for the year, to 1.04 billion tons. That’s a 3.6 percent increase.

Mining output is projected to fall by more than 25 million tons in 2015. Agency analyst Elias Johnson says that’s because new rules for mercury pollution will kick in, prompting utilities to shutter some coal-burning power plants rather than make costly upgrades.

The impacts on mining are expected to be most acute in areas such as the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, which produces more than 40 percent of U.S. coal.

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