Which states are the largest producers and consumers of coal?

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Wyoming coal operations. Image Credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Coal Production

In 2017, the U.S. produced over 774 million short tons of coal1.  Coal in the U.S. is produced in three broad regions: Appalachian (Alabama, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia), Interior (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Western Kentucky), and Western (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).

Map of U.S. coal basins. The darker the blue, the higher the coal production in the basin. Image Credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Figure 1. Map of U.S. coal basins. The darker the blue, the higher the coal production in the basin. Image Credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Not all U.S. states have coal, and not all coal reserves are recoverable due to factors such as competing land uses, property rights, and physical or environmental restrictions. Due to this, some states mine coal or have a history of mining coal while others do not. In 2017, 25 states produced coal, with the top five coal-producing states making up over 70% of total U.S. production1.

Top Coal Producing States in 20171

  1. Wyoming 41%
  2. West Virginia 12%
  3. Pennsylvania 6.3%
  4. Illinois 6.3%
  5. Kentucky 5.5%

Graph showing U.S. coal production of the top 5 producing states. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Image Credit: American Geosciences Institute

Figure 2. Graph showing U.S. coal production of the top 5 producing states. Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Image Credit: American Geosciences Institute

Out of the five top producing states, West Virginia is the largest coal employer with over 11,500 workers in 20162. However, Wyoming has by far the largest coal output, producing almost four times as much coal as West Virginia with half the number of workers2. Coal deposits in Wyoming are relatively thick and closer to the surface than deposits in other states, which allows high-output surface mining techniques that are less labor-intensive3.

Coal Consumption

The U.S. consumed over 731 million short tons of coal in 20162. The majority of coal consumed in the U.S. is burned for electricity generation; a small percentage is consumed for industrial or commercial purposes such as coke in steel mills2.

Top Coal Consuming States in 20164

  1. Texas (86.8 million short tons)
  2. Indiana (42.2 million short tons)
  3. Illinois (39.0 million short tons)
  4. Missouri (36.4 million short tons)
  5. Pennsylvania (33.4 million short tons)

Coal consumption is generally highest in states with high electricity needs and high in-state or nearby coal production. Coal consumption tends to be low in states that are far from coal-producing areas and have easy access to other electricity sources (i.e., natural gas, renewables, and nuclear power). For example, California uses more energy than any state except Texas5, but less than one percent of this energy comes from coal6, largely because California is a long distance from major coal-producing regions and has abundant natural gas and renewable energy resources.

Coal in Your State

Coal Producing States

Alabama mines bituminous coal2 and produces 2% of U.S. coal1. Mobile, Alabama is the nation’s fourth largest coal exporting port7.

Interactive map of oil and gas resources in Alabama

Colorado mines bituminous and subbituminous coal2 and produces 2% of U.S. coal1.

Colorado Geological Survey: Coal

Colorado Energy Office: Coal

Interactive map of the mines of Colorado

Illinois mines bituminous coal2 and produces 6% of U.S. coal1. The state is the third largest bituminous coal producer and the fourth largest overall coal producer in the country.

Illinois State Geological Survey: Coal

Illinois Coal Maps and Data

Illinois Clean Coal Institute – Reports Database

 Indiana mines bituminous coal2 and produces 4% of U.S. coal1.

Indiana Geological and Water Survey: Coal

Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Coal

Interactive map of coal mines in Indiana

Kentucky mines bituminous coal2 and produces 6% of U.S. coal1. The state is the fourth largest bituminous coal producer and the fifth largest overall coal producer in the country.

Kentucky Geological Survey Coal Production Database

Interactive map of coal mines in Kentucky

Mississippi mines lignite2 and produces 0.3% of U.S. coal1.

Lignite resources in Mississippi

Missouri mines bituminous coal2 and produces 0.03% of U.S. coal1.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources: Surface Mining for Coal in Missouri

Interactive map of abandoned mines in Missouri

Montana mines bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal2 and produces 5% of U.S. coal1. The state is the second largest subbituminous coal producer in the country.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality: Coal

New Mexico mines bituminous and subbituminous coal2 and produces 2% of U.S. coal1.

New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources: Coal FAQs

New Mexico Coal Mine Reclamation Program

Interactive map of New Mexico’s geology and natural resources

North Dakota mines lignite2 and produces 4% of U.S. coal1. The state is the second largest lignite producer in the country.

Lignite in North Dakota

North Dakota Geological Survey: Coal

Ohio mines bituminous coal2 and produces 1% of U.S. coal1.

Ohio Division of Mineral Resources: Coal Mining FAQs

Interactive map of mines in Ohio

Pennsylvania mines bituminous and anthracite coal2 and produces 6% of U.S. coal1. The state is the second largest bituminous coal producer, third largest overall coal producer, and the only anthracite coal producer in the country.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: Coal Mining

Anthracite Coal Mining Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Interactive atlas of historical coal mine maps in Pennsylvania

Texas mines lignite2 and produces 5% of U.S. coal1. The state is the largest lignite producer in the country.

Map of lignite mines in Texas

Utah mines bituminous coal2 and produces 2% of U.S. coal1.

Utah Geological Survey: Coal & Coalbed Methane

Interactive map of abandoned coal mines in Utah

Virginia mines bituminous coal2 and produces 2% of U.S. coal1. The port in Norfolk Customs District is the nation’s largest coal exporting port7.

Virginia Division of Geology and Mineral Resources: Coal Production

Interactive map of abandoned mines in Virginia

West Virginia mines bituminous coal2 and produces 12% of U.S. coal1. The state is the largest bituminous coal producer and the second largest overall coal producer in the country.

West Virginia Geological Survey: Coal FAQs

Interactive map of coal mines in West Virginia

Wyoming mines bituminous and subbituminous coal2 and produces 41% of U.S. coal1. The state is the largest producer of subbituminous coal and the largest overall coal producer in the country.

Wyoming State Geological Survey: Coal

Wyoming Coal Maps and Data

States with coal mining history but no current production

Iowa mined coal from the late 1800s to 19408.

History of coal mining in Iowa

Interactive map of coal mines in Iowa

Michigan mined coal from the 1800s to the 1950s9.

Interactive map of Michigan’s geology and natural resources

Washington began mining coal in the mid-1800s10. Coal mining in the state stopped with the closure of the Centralia coal mine in 200611. Seattle, Washington is the nation’s fifth largest port for coal trade7.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources: Coal

Interactive atlas of coal mine maps in Washington

Learn More 

  • Coal Explained: Use of Coal (Webpage), Energy Information Administration
    Summary of how coal contributes to electricity, industry, and conversion into gas and liquid
     
  • What are the different types of coal? (Webpage), American Geosciences Institute
    Information on physical properties, location, and uses for the four ranks of coal
     
  • Coal (PDF Pamphlet), Ohio Geological Survey
    Basic overview of the geology and formation of coal, different grades of coal, coal mining in Ohio, and clean coal technology
     
  • Coal Data (Data), U.S. Energy Information Administration
    Information on domestic and international prices, reserves, consumption, production, exports/imports, stocks, and other data
     
  • State Energy Profiles (Webpage) U.S. Energy Information Administration
    Information and analysis of energy production, consumption, and sources for each U.S. state

References

1Weekly Coal Production (Webpage) U.S. Energy Information Administration
2Annual Coal Report 2016 (Report) U.S. Energy Information Administration
3Wyoming Mining Industry: An In-Depth Analysis (Paper) Wyoming Department of Employment
4Coal Explained: Coal Statistics (Webpage) U.S. Energy Information Administration
5State Energy Data System (Webpage) U.S. Energy Information Administration
6California State Profile and Energy Estimates (Webpage) U.S. Energy Information Administration
7Coal exports by Customs District (PDF) US Energy Information Administration
8Coal Mining in Iowa (Webpage) Iowa History Project
9Michigan Coal Maps and Mining Information (Webpage) Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
10Coal, Metallic, and Mineral Resources (Webpage) Washington State Department of Natural Resources
11State’s last coal mine shuts; Centralia hit hard (Newspaper Article) The Seattle Times