That’s the message from Brenda Pierce, head of the U.S. Geological Survey team that found that the
Gov. Brian Schweitzer likes to use that phrase when talking about
"Now here's how
is going to save the world," [Schweitzer] proclaimed at one point. "We are the Montana of coal," he said... Saudi Arabia
But is that characterization of
Basically, here’s the gist:
George Warholic calculates
's vast coal reserves the same way his predecessors have for decades: He looks up the prior year's coal-reserve estimate, subtracts the year's nationwide production and arrives at a new official tally. America
Coal provides nearly one-quarter of the total energy consumed in the
, and by Mr. Warholic's estimate, the country has enough in the ground to last about 240 years. A belief in this nearly boundless supply has led officials to dub the U.S. the "Saudi Arabia of Coal." U.S.
But the estimate, recent findings show, may be wildly overconfident.
While there is almost certainly as much coal in the ground as Mr. Warholic's Energy Information Administration believes, relatively little of it can be profitably extracted. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey completed an extensive analysis of Wyoming's Gillette coal field, the nation's largest and most productive, and determined that less than 6% of the coal in its biggest beds could be mined profitably, even at prices higher than today's.
"We really can't say we're the
of coal anymore," says Brenda Pierce, head of the USGS team that conducted the study. Saudi Arabia
According to scientists, carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants is the leading contributor to global climate change. (A sobering note on that point: A new study by the USGS found
Coal’s future seems to be getting darker by the day.
On the upside, as coal becomes more expensive to burn,
According to National Wind, “
Perhaps in the future