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What is "Just Transition"?

Coal Transition in the United States

This report describes the U.S. shift away from coal, including its driving forces and policy measures to ease the transition.


This report provides an analysis of the U.S. coal sector transformation over the last decade. It describes the decline of U.S. coal production after 2008 due to unfavorable market dynamics and a changing federal regulatory environment. It then discusses the shale gas revolution and the expansion of renewable sources of energy, which created competition with alternative fuels in utility sectors.

The report focuses on Obama-era environmental regulations, which had a significant impact on U.S. coal production between 2014 and 2016. The Obama administration’s decarbonization efforts, which set limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, led to a decline in domestic demand for coal. Moreover, the federal extension of renewables tax credits enabled wind and solar to become competitive in the energy market.

This report examines recent distributional impacts of the coal sector transition and discusses the various policy measures that were introduced, including their successes and their failures. The author argues that the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations and tax cuts for coal companies will not be enough to revive the coal sector and emphasizes the need to manage impacts on coal communities.