National Coal Council Approves Export Report

The National Coal Council (NCC) approved and released on October 3 a report that will be sent to the U.S. Secretary of Energy promoting U.S. coal exports as part of an effort to “achieve U.S. energy dominance, enhance international energy security and eliminate global energy poverty.”

The report, titled “Advancing U.S. Coal Exports: An Assessment of Opportunities to Enhance Exports of U.S. Coal,” was prepared at the request of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Perry asked the NCC to examine market, policy and infrastructure challenges and opportunities to advance U.S. coal resources in international power and industrial markets. 

The report assesses international market opportunities for thermal and metallurgical coal from eastern, central and western U.S. coal-producing regions and evaluates market, infrastructure and policy barriers impeding exports.

It also calls for creating a U.S. Department of Energy-led government-wide task force to monitor and coordinate policy developments relevant to advancing coal exports.

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“The Trump administration has called for unleashing U.S. coal exports to serve expanding international markets and to aid nations in achieving energy access and security,” said NCC Chairman Deck Slone, senior vice president for strategy and public policy at Arch Coal. 

“Unleashing our coal exports is a powerful way to strengthen America’s balance of trade, advance energy security and improve the quality of life for people around the world.”

The report said that according to the International Energy Agency, global export/import coal trade flow reached more than 1.3 billion tons in 2017.  While significant commercial amounts of coal are exported, just 10 nations, including the United States, accounted for over 95 percent of exports last year.

The seaborne market for coal is widespread globally and driven by the large demand in Asia, most notably China and India, which have used imports to bridge the gap between domestic supply and demand, a practice that is expected to continue.

The analysis offers five recommendations to build the competitiveness and growth of U.S. coal exports:

• Deploy advanced coal mining and processing technologies to reduce production costs, thus making U.S. coals more competitive in international markets. Enhance U.S. coal mining operations with export potential in both traditional and non-traditional coal supply regions.

• River Transport: Streamline funding for the nation’s inland waterway system in order to facilitate the cost-efficient flow of U.S. coals to international markets via U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports.

• Ports and Terminals: Enhance coal export port and terminal capacity on the U.S. Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts.

• Trade and International Relations: Eliminate policy and technology barriers to the deployment of advanced coal facilities in international markets.  Additionally, capitalize on trade opportunities, assessing policies and approaches that inhibit or promote U.S. trade and U.S. coal exports.   

• Economic Development in International Markets: Support efforts to advance economic growth in international markets and the global development of advanced coal technologies and promote the elimination of regulatory and institutional barriers to the deployment of coal-based facilities worldwide.

“Advancing U.S. Coal Exports” was co-chaired by Justin Burk, commercial director for Peabody; and David Lawson, vice president for coal marketing at Norfolk Southern Corporation.

NCC CEO Janet Gellici noted that the NCC also approved anether report entitled “Power Reset: Optimizing the Existing U.S. Coal Fleet to Ensure a Reliable and Resilient Power Grid,” which is among the more than 35 reports the council has prepared for the secretary of energy since its inception.

The NCC was chartered in 1984 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to advise, inform and make recommendations to the secretary of energy on matters related to coal and the coal industry.  Council members are appointed by the secretary of energy and serve in a voluntary capacity.

Draft copies of both NCC reports may be accessed at