Coal

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Coal is a carbon-rich rock formed from plants that grew millions of years ago. Coal is a major source of electricity in the United States and the largest source of energy for electricity generation worldwide.

Basics

A coal-fired power plant in Westport, Kentucky on the Ohio River. Image Copyright © Michael Collier. http://www.earthscienceworld.org/images

Coal is a rich source of energy formed from plants that grew in swamps tens to hundreds of millions of years ago. The plants were buried deeply under younger and younger layers of dirt and rock, heated, and compressed into a carbon-rich rock.[1] Burning coal releases more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than any other fossil fuel.[2]   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Case Studies & Factsheets

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Campbell County case study highlighted

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil.

Fig. 1. Exposure of sandstone capping an economic coal bed. Credit: J. Shaulis, Pennsylvania Geological Survey

Geologic maps provide critical information for coal resource exploration and for planners, regulators, decision makers, and the general public. Defining the Problem Despite Pennsylvania’s long history as a major coal producer, information on the coal geology (Fig. 1), remaining resources, and...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Boone, Logan and Mingo counties case study highlighted

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil.