The Coal Story


Tell the whole story. Tell the coal story.

Every day, more than 80 trains, each a mile long, roll out from Wyoming, the nation’s top coal producing state, to power plants in 37 states. These trains hauled more than 397 million tons of the 401 million tons of coal produced in 2012. There are sufficient coal reserves in Wyoming to keep producing at our current rate for the next 140 years.


Coal is a significant source of power for the country, accounting for nearly 42 percent of the nation’s electricity. The Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that U.S. electricity generation will increase by .9 percent each year through 2040.

Coal is projected to make up the largest share of fuel for electricity production, although it is expected to decline from its current level to 35 percent in 2040. This projected decrease is based on federal environmental regulations and low-priced, abundant natural gas. China is the largest coal user in the world today, followed by the U.S. By 2020, however, India is expected to be the largest net importer of coal.

Coal is a fossil fuel and is the altered remains of prehistoric vegetation. The energy we get from coal today comes from the energy that plants absorbed from the sun millions of years ago. In the burning process of coal, carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted. Humans expel CO2, and plants utilize it every single day. Carbon is a building block for all forms of life and is used in a lot of everyday products.

Coal can be used to generate electricity day or night, rain or shine, and at a price people can afford. It is an essential part of reliable, affordable electricity to which there is no current viable alternative.

Wyoming coal is considered clean burning because it has less sulfur and burns at around 8,400 to 8,800 BTUs per pound, which means it is better for the environment.

As the debate over the impact of CO2 emissions continues, the reality is we are now living in a carbon-constrained world where expectations for cleaner forms of energy continue to grow. However, the global demand for energy is rising in-step as a driver of economic growth and an essential component in improving opportunity and quality of life around the world.

We can’t let the energy versus environment debate block innovation.

Debate is not a solution, but the ITC can be.