US Coal Markets

IEEFA Research

IEEFA U.S. Coal Outlook 2017: Short-Term Gains Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals

IEEFA U.S. Coal Outlook 2017: Short-Term Gains Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals

Production Declining by as Much as 40 Million Tons; Prices Failing to Benefit Shareholders or Stimulate New Investment; Anemic Exports; Little or No Gain From Regulatory Relief; Increasingly Dim Employment Prospects

We’re out this morning with our annual outlook for U.S. coal markets, and the picture isn’t pretty. We see the potential for some short-lived strength in the current uptick for coal producers but the title of our assessment sums up the larger view: “Short-Term Gains Will Be Muted by Prevailing Weaknesses in Fundamentals.” You can […]

Read More →
IEEFA Texas: The Beginning of the End for Coal-Fired Electricity Across One of the Biggest Power Markets in the U.S.

IEEFA Texas: The Beginning of the End for Coal-Fired Electricity Across One of the Biggest Power Markets in the U.S.

Report Finds Seven Plants Emblematic of a Fading Industry

We published a research report today describing how the coal-fired electricity industry in Texas is in decline and unlikely to recover in the face of rising competition from other energy sources. Our report—“The Beginning of the End: Fundamental Changes in Energy Markets Are Undermining the Financial Viability of Coal-Fired Power Plants in Texas”—looks specifically at […]

Read More →

As Texas Coal-Fired Power Plants Close, Powder River Basin Mines Are Losing Their Largest Customers

Trends Will Force Closures and Complicate Efforts by Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy to Work Their Way Out of Bankruptcy

CLEVELAND, Aug. 3, 2016 (IEEFA.org) — The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis today published a report detailing how Powder River Basin coal producers are losing their largest customers as Texas power producers turn increasingly to other sources of energy. The report, “Texas’ Outsize Role in the Decline of the Powder River Basin Coal […]

Read More →
The Federal Government’s Coal-Leasing Program Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It

The Federal Government’s Coal-Leasing Program Is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It

Appoint a Price-Setting Commission; Ban Exports; Cancel Some Leases; Eliminate Self-Bonding; Mandate Set-Asides for Mine Clean-up and Miner Pensions; Require Twice-a-Year Audits; Assume Smaller Markets

It’s time for the U.S. to modernize how it manages its publicly owned coal reserves. That’s the essence of comments we’ve filed today with the Department of the Interior as it begins a review of its federal coal-leasing program in the Powder River Basin, a program that has been mismanaged for years at taxpayer expense […]

Read More →
For U.S. Coal, Market Realities Grow Increasingly Harsh

For U.S. Coal, Market Realities Grow Increasingly Harsh

Debt Hurdles, Reclamation and Pension Challenges, Abandonment by Hedge Funds

We distributed a briefing note this week that delves into some of the many pressing difficulties confronting U.S. coal producers. In the note (“Struggling U.S. Coal Companies Face Debt Hurdles, Complications From Reclamation and Pension Obligations, Pressure from Hedge Funds”) we talk about how the cumulative impacts of the industry’s many mounting liabilities—reclamation costs, pension […]

Read More →

More News and Commentary

IEEFA Update: Shutdown of Navajo Generating Station Likely Blows a Hole in Peabody’s Bankruptcy Plan

IEEFA Update: Shutdown of Navajo Generating Station Likely Blows a Hole in Peabody’s Bankruptcy Plan

Company Seen as Unlikely to Meet its Production or EBITDA Projections; Fate of Plant Is Emblematic of Larger Shift

Bankrupt Peabody Energy is being dealt a fresh setback on news this week that owners of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station don’t expect to keep the plant open past 2019. The 2,500-megawatt station in Northern Arizona is owned by a consortium of public and private utilities with significant service areas in several states. While Peabody […]

Read More →

Editorial: D.C.’s Strange Love for Coal

From the Virginia Pilot: Coal is ascendant in Washington, D.C. at the moment. It’s about the only place where its future is bright. “We’ll unleash the full power of American energy, ending the job-killing restrictions on shale oil, natural gas and clean, beautiful coal,” President Donald Trump said last month. It’s of a kind with […]

Read More →

Owners Say Navajo Generation Station Will Close in Two Years

Russell Gold for the Wall Street Journal: Arizona’s Navajo Generating Station, one of the largest coal-burning power plants in the U.S., will keep running through December 2019, but a majority of the plant’s owners said they won’t seek to keep it open after 2019. In a sign of a changing energy marketplace that has turned […]

Read More →

‘He Can’t Bring Coal Back in Any Way Unless He Is Capable of Inventing a Time Machine’

Jane C. Timm for NBC News: While regulation sped the shuttering of older coal mines in the last decade, experts say it was natural gas that turned the screws on the industry. Cleaner and cheaper, the natural gas market share is growing rapidly and putting as much — if not more — pressure on the […]

Read More →

Little Coal Industry Relief Seen in Reversal of Stream Protection Rule

Taylor Kuykendall for SNL: While the coal industry awaits the signature of President Donald Trump to upend years of agency effort to craft a Stream Protection Rule, just how much benefit is in store for the sector is unclear. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., warned of the “possible elimination of thousands of jobs,” while House Speaker […]

Read More →

Goldman Sachs: Trump’s Border-Tax Plan Would Give Natural Gas Further Advantages Over Coal

Dan Murtaugh for Bloomberg News: The impact of a border tax plan would more immediately be felt on coal prices, where a higher portion of production costs are in local currencies. The wild card there, Goldman said, would be China, the world’s largest coal producer. Goldman expects China will let its currency depreciate to make […]

Read More →

Developer of Proposed U.S. Coal-Export Terminal Gives Up

Dave Gallagher for the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald: Developers of the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point have withdrawn its permit applications, essentially closing the book on the project. Pacific International Terminals sent a letter Tuesday to Whatcom County officials announcing it was stopping the environmental impact statement process and is withdrawing its applications for the […]

Read More →

U.S. Coal Industry Stands to Lose in Trump’s Trade-Pact Disruptions

Joshua Learn for SNL: Coal will suffer more than other industries if the U.S. pulls out of international trade markets as promised by President Donald Trump, according to market analysts. “It’s true that in general, international trade is good for all economies and anything that slows that will reduce economic growth,” said Andy Roberts, research […]

Read More →
IEEFA Update: Elections Have Consequences, but Perhaps Few That Can Save Coal

IEEFA Update: Elections Have Consequences, but Perhaps Few That Can Save Coal

Market Forces Are What Matter Above All

We didn’t make it this year to the Coaltrans USA conference last week in Miami, but we heard tell of some smart talk at the event by two of the industry’s CEOs, Bob Murray of Murray Energy and Kevin Crutchfield of Contura Energy, né Alpha Natural Resources.    The conference, where executives and analysts gather […]

Read More →

‘American Coal Has New Playbook to Dig Itself Out’

Tim Loh for Bloomberg News: Boosted by higher prices and presidential promises of aid, U.S. coal is having a comeback season. Yet a looming quandary remains: Demand continues to shrink. In the boom-bust cycles of old, the fuel’s use grew relentlessly as a fleet of coal-fired power plants fed America’s hunger for electricity. Now, a […]

Read More →