Research from Clean Energy Action, a group promoting a transition away from fossil fuel, claims that the coal industry has been overestimating how long the country’s coal supply will last, and says production in almost all states will only decline. Illinois is an exception, according to the study’s author, Leslie Glustrom, but only for now.
“Increased production in Illinois and Indiana is not likely to change the overall conclusion about United States coal production very likely having peaked,” Glustrom said.
Production in Illinois has risen thanks to new technology that can burn the sulfur-rich coal found in the state while still adhering to clean air laws, but it’s still below its peak production. Glustrom says that occurred in 1918, when Illinois produced 90 million tons of coal. In 2012, the state produced 48 million tons.
Glustrom says Illinois will eventually succumb to the national trend predicted by her study, where there’s little coal left that can be mined at a profit.