Coal as a fuel for power generation is on its way out in America, and there’s no turning back with renewables and natural gas now cheaper and vastly preferable for environmental reasons. 25 power plants closed in in 2018 alone and every month more closings are announced. Major mining companies have filed for bankruptcy and the prospects for the industry as a whole seem bleak, something that worries coal economy dependent states like Wyoming.
In response to economic challenges and the shift to cleaner fuels in the US, some coal states want to export their coal to other parts of the world, but liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals are coming online quickly and, increasingly, and coastal states on the Pacific seem inclined not to facilitate the export of coal through their ports. Coal states are battling in court for access to those shipping facilities, a test of federal laws, constitutional provisions, and regulations used to protect air and water.
Of course, there’s a chance for coal mining states to diversify, with Wyoming having particularly strong possibilities in wind energy, but old habits are hard to break.