Jan 8, 2014 - The Associated PressBILLINGS, Mont. -- The U.S. coal mining industry will see a modest and short-lived rebound in 2014, driven by more production in Western states after two successive years of declines, according to a government forecast released Tuesday.
Low prices for natural gas have been largely to blame for coal's decline in recent years. Coal mining output is projected to resume its downward slide and fall by more than 25 million tons in 2015, when new rules for mercury pollution kick in. Agency analyst Elias Johnson said the mercury reduction rules already have prompted many utilities to announce they will shutter coal-burning power plants rather than sink money into costly upgrades.
The short-term effects on mining are expected to be heaviest in terms of volume in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, which produces more than 40 percent of U.S. coal.
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