Full Title: Can Coal Make a Comeback
Author(s): Trevor Houser, Jason Bordoff, and Peter Marsters
Publisher(s): Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy
Publication Date: 04/2017

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Description (excerpt):
Six years ago, the US coal industry was thriving, with demand recovering from the Great Recession, and global
coal prices at record highs along with the stock prices of US coal companies. By the end of 2015, however, the
industry had collapsed, with three of the four largest US miners filing for bankruptcy along with many other smaller
companies. While coal mining employment has been on the decline for decades – from a peak of more than 800,000
in the 1920s to 130,000 in 2011 – the pace of job loss over the past six years has been particularly dramatic. After
campaigning on a promise to end what he called his predecessor’s “War on Coal,” President Donald Trump signed
an Executive Order in March 2017 ordering agencies to review or rescind a raft of Obama-era environmental
regulations, telling coal miners they would be “going back to work.”

This paper offers an empirical diagnosis of what caused the coal collapse, and then examines the prospects for a
recovery of US coal production and employment by modeling the impact of President Trump’s executive order and
assessing the global coal market outlook.