US coal consumption drops to lowest level since 1979

WASHINGTON — A federal report says Americans are using less coal this year than at any time since Jimmy Carter’s presidency. That’s despite the Trump administration’s efforts to revive the country’s coal industry.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that the country will end 2018 having used less coal than at any time since 1979.

The report cites ongoing competition from cheap and cleaner-burning forms of energy, especially natural gas. Tighter pollution rules also have shut some older, dirtier coal plants.

The electrical grid is the main user of coal. With U.S. demand falling since 2007, federal officials said, this year will be the second-biggest on record for mothballing of U.S. coal plants.

Market forces are frustrating President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring back the coal industry and abundant coal jobs.

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