But all is not going well for the coal industry. Concerns over CO2 emissions and global wamring, coupled with general air pollution issues and then the coal ash mess in Tennessee have the coal industry playing defense. Yet as the map shows, coal is widely produced and thus carries considerable political clout in numerous states.
There are obvious strong economic arguments in favor of coal. It's American and it's cheap to mine and burn. Opponents point to the damage done to the environment from mining to air pollution. That alone ranges from CO2 to acid rain. As a result, in the past two years 83 proposed coal plants have bitten the dust, coal dust at that.
The pro-coal lobby is widely playing a TV ad starring President Obama calling for clean coal in a campaign speech. So far it is not clear where the Obama Administration is headed on coal use. But at the state level coal is not doing well right now. Skeptics say there's no such thing as "clean coal." One thing the coal folks look forward to: carbon sequestration, a technology not yet seen on a utility-scale application.