Front Porch Blog

Appalachian Voices Confirms Study Results and Then Some

In fact, projections based on the best available models and recent production trends indicate that an estimate of 26 billion tons of Appalachian reserves is quite optimistic. If reserve estimates in other areas are as overblown as those for the Appalachian Basin, the actual number of years of reserves based on current consumption would be in the neighborhood of 100 ­ and if coal consumption increases by 70% by 2030 as the Department of Energy¹s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects, that figure would be closer to 70 years.

With the highest quality and most accessible coal seams already mined out as the NAS study reports even maintaining current production levels will mean not only more mountaintop removal mining, but increasingly destructive mountaintop removal as the seams become deeper, thinner and have higher overburden/coal ratios. Actually increasing coal production in the Appalachian Basin would only be possible if environmental and safety laws were weakened drastically.

The NAS report should be the nail in the coffin of arguments that the U.S. is the ³Saudi Arabia of Coal.² After all, Saudi Arabia doesn¹t import oil and according to an existing EIA projection, U.S. imports of coal will exceed exports by 2014. (You could argue that this is the single most underappreciated fact in the ongoing energy debate). If recent trends continue, it could happen as soon as 2009.

See the orginal NAS report here.

View the full-size charts here and here.





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