Montana coal production is down a third this spring, and it’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be letting up.  Montana coal mines have produced 9.6 million tons of coal through May 1, down 4 million tons compared to the same four months last year.  State programs dependent on coal revenue will feel it if the trend continues, according to Bud Clinch of the Montana Coal Council.
Coal is facing several economic, environmental and political challenges.  The United States is getting more of its power from cheap natural gas and alternative energy.  Consequently, energy produced by coal has declined.

 

 

In the first quarter of this year, coal contributed 29 percent of the nation’s power supply, down from 48 percent just a few years ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  The latest coal tax projections from the Montana Department of Revenue has the coal tax down $7 million.