United States and coal

From Global Energy Monitor

The United States is one of the largest producers and consumers of coal in the world. In 2019, it produced 640.8 million tonnes and ranked first in the size of it's coal resource base.[1]

Coal Resources

The United States coal resource base is the largest in the world. According to expert reports commissioned by the World Energy Council in 2011, there is a proved amount in place of some 442 billion tonnes (based on the Energy Information Administration’s ‘Demonstrated Reserve Base’). This total is comprised of 241.6 billion tonnes of bituminous coal (including anthracite) with a maximum deposit depth of 671 m and minimum seam thickness of 0.25 m; 161.8 billion tonnes of sub-bituminous (at up to 305 m depth and 1.52 m minimum seam thickness) and 39.0 billion tonnes of lignite (at up to 61 m depth and 0.76 m minimum seam thickness).[2]

The reported proved recoverable reserves amount to 237.3 billion tonnes, equivalent to about 28% of the global total. They comprise 108.5 billion tonnes of bituminous coal (including anthracite), 98.6 billion tonnes of sub-bituminous and 30.2 billion tonnes of lignite. The overall ratio of proved recoverable reserves to the proved amount in place is 0.54. [2]

WEC Member Committee reports enormous quantities of coal as inferred resources, being the difference between Remaining Identified Resources and the Demonstrated Reserve Base: in total these come to well over a trillion tonnes, composed of 418 billion tonnes of bituminous, 268 billion sub-bituminous and 391 billion lignite. These estimates are derived from a US Department of the Interior study of coal resources as at 1 January 1974, but are regarded as still providing valid indications of the magnitude of the USA’s additional coal resources. Assuming a similar recovery ratio for such resources as for those reported as proved, the US Member Committee estimates the recoverable portion as amounting to some 653 billion tonnes, comprised of 188 bituminous, 163 sub-bituminous and 302 lignite.[2]

Enormous additional (hypothetical) coal resources are also reported. The amounts involved comprise 698 billion tonnes of bituminous coal, 1 036 billion tonnes of sub-bituminous and 296 billion tonnes of lignite, giving a total of some 2 trillion tonnes.[2]

Resource Details

Category Reserve Classification Quantity Units Data Year
BGR Estimate Reserves 249,537[1] million tonnes 2019
BGR Estimate Resources 7,827,558[1] million tonnes 2019
Geological Survey Reserves 228,611[3] million tonnes 2020
Geological Survey Resources 429,098[3] million tonnes 2020
Commercial Reporting Reserves million tonnes
Commercial Reporting Resources million tonnes

Coal production

In 2019, the United States produced 640.8 million tonnes. U.S. coal production totaled over a billion tonnes in the mid-2000s, with peak output in 2010:[4]

  • 1.17 billion short tons in 2008
  • 1.074 billion tons in 2009
  • 1.084 billion tons in 2010
  • 1.08 billion tons in 2011


For more information on employment in the coal sector, see Coal and jobs in the United States.

Coal Consumption

To find state-by-state information on existing coal plants, proposed coal plants, mines, citizen groups working on coal issues, power companies and agencies, click on the map below.

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Coal plants

To see a nationwide list of over 600 coal plants in the United States, click here. To see a listing of coal plants in a particular state, click on the map:

Category:Existing coal plants in AlabamaCategory:Existing coal plants in AlaskaCategory:Existing coal plants in ArizonaCategory:Existing coal plants in ArkansasCategory:Existing coal plants in CaliforniaCategory:Existing coal plants in ColoradoCategory:Existing coal plants in ConnecticutCategory:Existing coal plants in DelawareCategory:Existing coal plants in FloridaCategory:Existing coal plants in GeorgiaCategory:Existing coal plants in HawaiiCategory:Existing coal plants in IdahoCategory:Existing coal plants in IllinoisCategory:Existing coal plants in IndianaCategory:Existing coal plants in IowaCategory:Existing coal plants in KansasCategory:Existing coal plants in KentuckyCategory:Existing coal plants in LouisianaCategory:Existing coal plants in MaineCategory:Existing coal plants in MarylandCategory:Existing coal plants in MassachusettsCategory:Existing coal plants in MichiganCategory:Existing coal plants in MinnesotaCategory:Existing coal plants in MississippiCategory:Existing coal plants in MissouriCategory:Existing coal plants in MontanaCategory:Existing coal plants in NebraskaCategory:Existing coal plants in NevadaCategory:Existing coal plants in New HampshireCategory:Existing coal plants in New JerseyCategory:Existing coal plants in New MexicoCategory:Existing coal plants in New YorkCategory:Existing coal plants in North CarolinaCategory:Existing coal plants in North DakotaCategory:Existing coal plants in OhioCategory:Existing coal plants in OklahomaCategory:Existing coal plants in OregonCategory:Existing coal plants in PennsylvaniaCategory:Existing coal plants in Rhode IslandCategory:Existing coal plants in South CarolinaCategory:Existing coal plants in South DakotaCategory:Existing coal plants in TennesseeCategory:Existing coal plants in TexasCategory:Existing coal plants in UtahCategory:Existing coal plants in VermontCategory:Existing coal plants in VirginiaCategory:Existing coal plants in Washington StateCategory:Existing coal plants in West VirginiaCategory:Existing coal plants in WisconsinCategory:Existing coal plants in WyomingCategory:Existing coal plants in DelawareCategory:Existing coal plants in MarylandCategory:Existing coal plants in New HampshireCategory:Existing coal plants in New JerseyCategory:Existing coal plants in MassachusettsCategory:Existing coal plants in ConnecticutCategory:Existing coal plants in West VirginiaCategory:Existing coal plants in VermontCategory:Existing coal plants in Rhode IslandMap of USA with state names.png
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Coal exports

For more detailed information, visit the U.S. coal exports page and Coal exports from ports on the west coast of Canada and the United States.

In 2007, the United States exported almost 60 million tons of coal. One industry analyst estimated that the amount would rise to 80-90 million tons in 2008 and 100 million tons in 2009. Through June of this 2008, producers sent 40.4 million tons overseas, a 57 percent increase over the same period in 2007.[5]

In May 2011, Reuters reported that total U.S. coal exports could amount to around 100 million tons (91 million tons) in 2011, according to analysts, leaving only Australia and Indonesia above the U.S. in world coal export rankings, and putting the U.S. above Russia, Colombia and South Africa.[6]

External Articles

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 BGR Energy Study 2019 - Data and Developments in German and Global Energy Supplies (23), Hannover: Germany, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Energy Resources: Coal, World Energy Council, Country Notes, 2013.
  3. 3.0 3.1 US Energy Information Agency, Coal Reserves, 2020.
  4. "Coal Production, 1949-2010" EIA, accessed January 2012.
  5. Lee Buchsbaum, "New coal economics," EnergyBiz Insider, December 24, 2008
  6. Bruce Nichols, "Analysis: U.S. to be a top coal exporter again, thanks to Asia" Reuters, May 12, 2011.