that may be required to meet increasing demands for coal to be addressed in a timely manner.

Perhaps less widely known is that the EIA projections in its Annual Energy Outlook assume no change in current U.S. laws and regulations affecting energy supplies or demand over the next 25 years. Therefore, while the Annual Energy Outlook examines the implications of alternative assumptions regarding energy prices, technology costs, economic growth, and other parameters in its forecasting models, the EIA is precluded from analyzing alternative policy scenarios in that report. However, as a result of specific requests from Congress, EIA models have been used to analyze policy proposals that would require reduced emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. These analyses reveal a very different outlook for coal. In most of these scenarios, future growth in coal use is significantly curtailed and in some cases even falls below 2004 levels by 2030. However, other scenarios and models project significant increases in coal use even with stringent CO2 constraints, provided that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology is available to sequester CO2 in geological formations. Overall, the review of current domestic and international coal use forecasts presented in Chapter 2 reveals that potential future constraints on greenhouse gas (especially CO2) emissions, and the technical and economic feasibility of CO2 control measures, are the dominant issues affecting the outlook for the future of coal use over the next 25 years and beyond. The difficulty with predicting the prices and availability of alternative energy sources for electric power generation provides additional uncertainty. The committee explicitly found the following:

  • Over the next 10 to 15 years (until about 2020), coal production and use in the United States are projected to range from about 25 percent above to about 15 percent below 2004 levels, depending on economic conditions and environmental policies. By 2030, the range of projected coal use in the United States broadens considerably, from about 70 percent above to 50 percent below current levels. The higher values reflect scenarios with high oil and gas prices and no restrictions on carbon emissions. The lower values reflect scenarios with relatively strict limits on U.S. CO2 emissions, which cause coal use with sequestration to be more costly compared to other options for power generation.

  • At present, coal imports and exports represent small fractions of total U.S. coal production and use. Projections indicate that imports and exports are expected to remain relatively small.

  • Globally, the largest tonnage increases in coal use are expected in the emerging economies of China and India. Much smaller tonnage growth is projected in the rest of the world, although relative growth rates are projected to be high in several other countries. Again, however, there is great uncertainty in global coal use projections, especially beyond about 2020.

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