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Coal Market Distortions

Policymakers can raise revenue to invest in coal communities by ensuring that coal companies mining from federal lands pay their fair share, write the authors.

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idea_bulbThe U.S. coal industry is in the midst of a painful transition. The number of coal-mining jobs in the United States has fallen steadily in recent years, a trend that has had a profound impact on communities that depend on the coal industry for employment and tax revenue. Policymakers should manage this transition and ensure that coal communities emerge stronger and more resilient to fluctuations in the coal market.

Numerous market forces are driving the challenges facing the U.S. coal industry. Over the course of several decades, mechanization has progressively chipped away at the number of workers needed to mine a ton of coal. More recently, abundant and cheap supplies of cleaner-burning natural gas have outcompeted coal as the preferred fossil fuel for new electricity-generating capacity.

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