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Demise Of The Coal Industry Is Just Natural Progression

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Natural Gas Will Soon Be The Number One Producer Of Electricity

A longtime history and way of life in West Virginia is quickly beginning to fade away and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The cold-hearted fact is, coal mining in this state and the rest of the Appalachia region will come to an end within the next ten years. Don't blame it on Obama, the EPA or any other entity, it's just the natural progression of life after we welcomed natural gas as a source for electricity. Anyone who can honestly say they did not see this coming has been living under a rock.

This is the same scenario that allowed foreign countries and their industries to come to America and buy us out. We welcomed them with open arms because we were in need. When it was over, we blamed everyone but ourselves for letting it happen.

Natural Gas is the future and everyone from the gas companies to the lawmakers who paved the way through legislation right up to the landowner who leased out his mineral rights to drill natural gas is enjoying the windfall. And there is plenty of it to go around. I can also assure you our politicians are right behind it all hoping for it to succeed.

If there has been one key factor that has foretold the coal industries demise it was the recent media stories proclaiming how" 'For the first time in U.S. history, natural gas generated as much electricity as coal.' And within the next 7 to 10 year's natural gas exploration and production will leave the coal industry in its own dust.

You Do The Math

Up until recently, coal supplied 50% of the nations electricity. In 2012, reports show coal and natural gas are equal in their use to produce power. Experts predict that the need for coal will drop to 40% by the end of this year and 30% by the end of the decade. Coal generation decreased 29 billion-kilowatt hours from March 2011 to March 2012, while natural gas generation increased 27 billion-kilowatt hours during the same time period.

Natural gas prices were near 10-year lows this winter, causing some states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania to increase their dispatch of natural gas-fired plants. Newer vintage natural gas-fired units operate at higher efficiency than older, fossil-fired units, which increases the competitiveness of natural gas relative to coal. While natural gas production is on the increase and states are building more and more natural gas fired power plants, coal mines are laying off workers and shutting down coal mines as utilities increasingly switch from coal to natural gas.

According to statistics, gas exploration and production is cheaper, safer and less destructive to the land, (such as strip mining-mountain top removal) it is also more environmentally friendly. According to the Government Accountability Office, power plants that burn coal produce more than 90 times as much sulfur dioxide, five times as much nitrogen oxide and twice as much carbon dioxide as those that run on natural gas do. Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain; nitrogen oxides cause smog; and carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Massive Lay-Offs In The Coal Industry

Thousands of coal miners have been laid off just in the Appalachia region this year. Mines have shut down and thousands of more workers depending on the industry, have also lost their incomes. Just 2 months ago, one of the largest coal companies in the world (Arch Coal) laid off 750 workers in Kentucky and WV and closed 4 of its mines altogether. They announced cutbacks in production at 3 other mines.

According to Arch President and CEO John W. Eaves. "Current market pressures and a challenging regulatory environment have pushed coal consumption in the United States to a 20-year low." These job losses come as utilities increasingly switch from coal to natural gas, which has become cheaper as supplies grow.

What We Do Know

The current ongoing push for natural gas production is in the Marcellus Shale areas in WV, PA, NY, OH and parts of VA. Production there is anticipated to soar over the next 3 to 5 years. In early 2008, Terry Englander, a geoscience professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Gary Lash, a geology professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, surprised everyone with estimates that the Marcellus is estimated to contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

How much natural gas is anticipated just from the Marcellus Shale basin? Approximately 10% of that gas (50 trillion cubic feet) is projected to be recoverable. That volume of natural gas alone would be enough to supply the entire United States for about two years and have a wellhead value of about one trillion dollars! Early production rates from some of the new wells has been over one million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The technology is so new that long term production data is not available.

The mere presence of an enormous volume of potentially recoverable gas in the eastern United States has a great economic significance. This will be some of the closest natural gas to the high population areas of New Jersey, New York and New England. This transportation advantage will give Marcellus gas a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

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I am the publisher of an online news website and blog covering local, state and national news since 2007. Author of 4 cold-case murder books in the "Who Killed?" series published by Rooftop Publishing Company. Retired from mainstream media in 2007 (more...)
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