Tighter new regulation of stack gas emissions and competition in power generation are driving electrical utilities to demand cleaner, lower sulfur coal. Historical data on sulfur content of produced coals shows little variability in coal quality for individual mines and individual coal-producing counties over relatively long periods of time. If coal-using power generators follow the compliance patterns established in Phase I of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, then the industry's response to the tighter Phase II emissions standards will result in large amounts of coal production shifting from higher sulfur areas to areas with lower cost low sulfur coal. One reason this shift will likely occur is that currently only 30% of U.S. coal-fired electrical generating capacity is equipped with flue-gas scrubbers. In 1995, coal mines in the higher sulfur areas of the Illinois Basin and Northern and Central Appalachia employed 78% of all coal miners (>70,000 miners). A substantial geographical redistribution of the nation's coal supplies will likely lead to economic dislocations that will reach beyond local coal-producing areas.
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Coal-fired power generaion, new air quality regulations, and future U.S. coal production