Big coal isn’t looking so big anymore.
Production of coal from mountaintop removal—the most environmentally destructive type of mining—plunged 62 percent between 2008 and 2014, according to a report released Tuesday by the United States Energy Information Administration.
Surface mining fell 21 percent during that time, and total production declined 15 percent over six years.
“Lower demand for U.S. coal, primarily used to generate electric power, driven by competitive natural gas prices, increasing use of renewable generation, flat electricity demand, and environmental regulations, has contributed to lower U.S. coal production,” the report stated.
So, Why Should You Care? Burning coal is one of the dirtiest ways to generate electricity. Although coal-fired power plants produce just 39 percent of the nation’s power, they emit 77 percent of the electricity industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.