Appalachian Coal Fights for Survival on Shale Boom: Commodities
Coal mining in Appalachia has survived deadly explosions, the Great Depression and the country’s largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The latest threat is booming shale-gas production.
U.S. power utilities are favoring natural gas, which is trading at its cheapest in a decade as hydraulic fracturing opens up previously inaccessible reserves. Consumption of coal to generate electricity will fall 5 percent in 2012 to less than 900 million tons, a 16-year low, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Mining companies in Appalachia, an area covering 12 eastern states and home to 85 percent of U.S. coal mines, have cut at least 21 million tons of production this year, according to Doyle Trading Consultants in New York.
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