TABLE 4–3 Distribution of U.S. Recoverable Reserve Coal Energya by Method of Mining (percent)

Region

Surface

Deep

Total

Eastb

11

36

47

Westc

25

28

53

TOTAL

36

64

100

aReserve base is made up of economically and legally accessible deposits. Recoverable reserves calculated at 80 percent of surface, and 57 percent of deep, reserve base, Recoverable reserve coal energy is an estimated 6334 quads.

bAppalachian and Eastern Interior basins (see Figure 4–2).

cWestern Interior, Gulf, Northern Great Plains, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific (including Alaska) coal regions (see Figure 4–2).

Sources: Calculated from Office of Technology Assessment, The Direct Use of Coal: Prospects and Problems of Production and Combustion (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (052–003–00664–2), 1979), p. 63. For the combined deep and surface reserve base energy in Alaska and Washington, multiplied by 60 percent for an estimate of total recoverable reserve energy in those states, Francis X.Murray, ed., Where We Agree: Report of the National Coal Policy Project, 2 vols., sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978), vol. 2, p. 395.

the Mississippi: Kentucky (21 percent of the U.S. total), West Virginia (16 percent), Pennsylvania (13 percent), Illinois (8 percent), and Ohio (7 percent), all of which are states with large reserves. Two states with small reserves but fairly large outputs were Virginia (6 percent of the 1976 output) and Alabama (3 percent). Two states with very large reserves but comparatively small outputs were Montana and Wyoming (each with about 4 percent of the U.S. total). Montana and Wyoming were the largest western producers and have the fastest growing productions in the nation. On a Btu basis, the East’s share of total output would be larger, and the West’s smaller, than the tonnage shares shown here.11 Table 4–4 shows the share of recoverable reserves, production, and consumption for 1976, by census region.

The extent to which U.S. coal production will shift to the West’s easily mined, surface, low-sulfur deposits depends on the willingness of the federal government, which owns perhaps 55–60 percent of western deposits, to lease new, large tracts of land assembled into “logical mining units.”12 It will also depend on water-use policy in the West, on transportation rates, and in the longer run, on the progress of coal liquefaction and gasification technology. The mining industry estimates



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