By Lily Jamali

The price of coal has surged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions the European Union has placed on Russian coal in response.

Those sanctions announced last month are set to take full effect in August, creating — one would think — an opportunity for coal producers here in the United States. But they’re having trouble cashing in.

Yes, supply chains, shipping costs and all the usual suspects are making it expensive to move the stuff to Europe. Yet a lot of it also has to do with the current state of the American coal business.

U.S. coal production today is about half what it was when it peaked a decade ago.

“A lot of that is driven by the retirements of coal-fired power plants in the United States, which was the major source of demand,” said Mark Templeton, a clinical professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

He summed up the state of U.S. coal this way: “The industry is clearly in decline and is likely to be in continuing decline.”

Some mines, particularly across Appalachia, have shut down. For those still operating, coal executives are passing on making big investments.

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Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Fossil Fuels
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Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...