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U.S. Coal Use Is Plunging at Fastest Rate Since Eisenhower Era

  • Consumption dropped 13% last year, set to fall as much in 2020
  • Utilities are increasingly shifting to renewables, natural gas
Coal that will be burned to generate electricity moves down a conveyor belt at a coal-fired power plant in Winfield, West Virginia.

Coal that will be burned to generate electricity moves down a conveyor belt at a coal-fired power plant in Winfield, West Virginia.

Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

U.S. coal use plunged more than 13% in 2019, the most in 65 years, as power plants shut down across the country. That’s poised to happen again this year.

Total consumption slumped to 596 million tons in 2019 from 688 million tons in the prior year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This year, the figure is expected to slip again, to 517 million tons.