U.S. coal production in 2015 was lower than it has been in nearly 30 years, according to a report released by the Energy Information Administration today.
EIA data projects that the U.S. produced 10% less coal in 2015 than it did the year before. Analysts attribute this drop to a combination of low natural gas prices, a slowing of international demand, and environmental regulations. Brian Park, an industry economist on the EIA's coal statistics team says Appalachia has been hit hardest by far. Wyoming's Powder River Basin in comparison, has lower operating costs.
"PRB can withstand the low coal price in general. They're a lot more competitive," Park said.
But production in the West is down 9% since this time last year. And the majority of large coal companies operating in the region are struggling.