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Analysis: Coal is weakening without help from the EPA

Coal is weakening its dominion over the energy market, and according to a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, new EPA regulations are not to blame.

Wyoming lawmakers including Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis have pointed to what they call President Obama’s war on coal as the reason for declining coal production.

But David Schlissel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis -- who led the presentation -- says other factors are responsible.

“The construction of new coal plants became very expensive,” Schlissel says. “Second reason is that the demand for electricity in the US was not growing as fast as was previously experienced. And the third is late in 2008, 2009 natural gas prices collapsed and as a result other alternatives were cheaper than building the coal plant.”

Schlissel says coal prices will continue to go rise over the long-term, which would further exacerbate the risk of investing in coal.

In Wyoming, coal production in 2012 was down 9-percent from the year before.

Schlissel says coal has been under severe financial risk since the middle of the last decade, if not earlier.

Irina Zhorov is a reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She earned her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from the University of Wyoming. In between, she worked as a photographer and writer for Philadelphia-area and national publications. Her professional interests revolve around environmental and energy reporting and she's reported on mining issues from Wyoming, Mexico, and Bolivia. She's been supported by the Dick and Lynn Cheney Grant for International Study, the Eleanor K. Kambouris Grant, and the Social Justice Research Center Research Grant for her work on Bolivian mining and Uzbek alpinism. Her work has appeared on Voice of America, National Native News, and in Indian Country Today, among other publications.
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