Encouraging foreign companies to invest and create more jobs in America was the central message this week at the Select USA Investment Summit in Washington, where President Barack Obama addressed 1,000 business leaders from about 60 countries.
The boom in U.S. natural gas production is sparking an overseas demand for American coal. The domestic market for coal has shrunk as emission standards tightened and natural gas prices dropped. As a result, U.S. coal prices fell, boosting overseas demand for it.
Despite its weight, coal is easier to export than natural gas. Eager to make up lost domestic revenues, and seeing a hungry market overseas, the coal industry has begun a push to construct export terminals on the West Coast to serve the lucrative Asian market with low-priced coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
Last year, China was the largest single buyer of U.S. coal, importing 7.8 million tons. Despite their own substantial domestic reserves, and the fact that they mine more coal than anyone else, China has been a net importer of coal since 2009. China would buy a lot more from the U.S., but its coal purchases are limited by the capacity of western ports. Virtually all coal shipments from the West Coast last year went to China. Read more