Policy Update

Study: Environmental Regulations Played a Minor Role in Coal’s Decline



NCEL Point of Contact

Ava Gallo
Climate and Energy Program Manager


A new study has found that rolling back environmental regulations will have little effect on the coal industry. The research, from Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, analyzed 10 major Obama-era environmental regulations currently under scrutiny–only four of which are in effect–and found that these rules played a minor role in coal’s decline.

According to the study, coal’s decline can primarily be contributed to a mix of reduced international demand (26%), particularly in China, and cheap natural gas (49%). The impact of renewables only accounted for 18% of the market decline. The modeling predicts a best case employment scenario of between 70,000 and 90,000 coal mining jobs in 2020, whereas roughly 374,000 people are employed in solar energy today.