HKS Affiliated Authors

Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy, FAS

Additional Authors:

  • John Coglianese


The Effects of Fuel Prices, Regulations, and Other Factors on U.S. Coal Production, 2008-2016. John Coglianese, James Stock, June 15, 2017, Paper, "As is shown in Figure 1, between 2008 and 2015, U.S. coal production fell from 1,172 million tons to 897 million tons and coal employment fell from 87,000 to 66,000. In 2016, coal production declined further, to 739 million tons, 37% below its 2008 level. It is widely understood that a primary factor in this decline has been the sharp decline in natural gas prices, which has led to the substitution of natural gas for coal in electricity generation. In 2008, the national average price of natural gas delivered to an electricity generator nationally was 4.3times the price of coal, on a Btu basis; by 2016, this relative price had fallen to 1.4 as a result of the development and spread of fracking. This national decline masks regional variation, with natural gas prices being even more competitive in some regions. For the first time, in 2016 electricity generated from gas overtook generation from coal." Link