The U.S. is a net exporter of coal. U.S. coal exports, for which Europe is the largest customer, peaked in 2012. In 2015, the U.S. exported 7.0 percent of mined coal.
Coal mining in the United States is an industry in transition. Production in 2017 was down 33% from the peak production of 1,162.7 million tons (about 1054.8 million metric tonnes) in 2006. Employment of 50,000 coal miners is down from a peak of 883,000 in 1923. Generation of electricity is the largest user of coal, being used to produce 50% of electric power in 2005 and 27% in 2018. The U.S. is a net exporter of coal. U.S. coal exports, for which Europe is the largest customer, peaked in 2012. In 2015, the U.S. exported 7.0 percent of mined coal.
Coal remains an important factor in the 25 states in which it is mined. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2015 Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Pennsylvania produced about 639 millions of short tons (MST) representing 71% of total U.S. coal production in the United States.
Coal use may be on the decline, but China still produces a whopping 45% of the world’s coal.
Low–sulfur coal generally contains 1 percent or less sulfur by weight. For air quality standards, “low sulfur coal” contains 0.6 pounds or less sulfur per million Btu, which is equivalent to 1.2 pounds of sulfur dioxide per million Btu.