U.S. Coal Development--Promises, Uncertainties

EMD-77-43: Published: Sep 22, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 1977.

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Coal represents 90 percent of the Nation's total fossil fuel reserves, but it currently supplies only 18 percent of energy needs. The administration proposes to double annual coal production and use 1.2 billion tons by 1985, up from 665 million tons in 1976. This report is intended to be a reference document as well as an identification of the principal problems, tradeoffs, and alternatives to assist the Congress and other decisionmakers in formulating a national energy policy.

Achieving 1.2 billion tons by 1985 is highly unlikely--in fact, it will be very difficult to achieve 1 billion tons annually by 1985. While the actual tonnage of coal produced and used has increased through the years, coal use has declined relative to other fuels. Coal is less convenient than alternative fuels and causes more harm to the environment. Major areas which need to be explored and in which policy decisions are needed include: How much coal do we need? How much coal do we have? How do we get the available coal? How can we get the coal to where we want it? How can we make the coal usable? and How do we solve the social problems involved in increased use of coal?

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