Top 3 Biggest US Coal Mining Companies Reliant Upon Federally Funded Coal

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The three biggest coal mining companies in the United States depend on federal coal for the vast majority of coal they mine each year.

This is the primary conclusion from a new report published this week by Greenpeace, which claims that the biggest coal mining companies in the US depend on subsidized federal coal, at the same time as as they attack federal climate and clean air policies. The report is based off of data obtained through a Freedom of Information request, and calculates the total amount of federal coal mined in 2014 by the three biggest coal companies in the US — Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Cloud Peak Energy.

The study compared the total amount of federal coal mined in 2014 with each company’s total US coal production, and found that federal coal accounted for 68% of the total coal mined in the US by Peabody Energy, 83% by Arch Coal, and 88% for Cloud Peak Energy.

“Coal companies like Peabody are biting the hand that feeds, attacking federal policies like the Clean Power Plan even while they depend on federal coal for most of the coal they mine,” said Greenpeace Energy Campaign Director Kelly Mitchell, “Secretary Jewell should build on the moratorium on new coal leasing by permanently eliminating these corporate giveaways and realigning federal coal management with US climate commitments.”


The heavy subsidization of coal in the United States has long been a source of conflict with environmental groups. In September of 2015, a report published by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, Energy Transition Advisors, and the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis found that coal subsidies had distorted the market, increased emissions, and impeded the growth of cleaner fuels. Furthermore, the authors of the report noted that in some cases, subsidies had led to coal reserves being mined beyond actual demand.

Similarly, Greenpeace noted in the introduction to its report that “Access to subsidized federal coal led to expanded coal mining in Western States, and also encouraged the use of coal generally.”

There have been some recent improvements in the US coal landscape of late. In January, the country’s Energy Information Administration released figures showing that US coal production fell to its lowest levels since 1986, continuing a downward trend that started in 2008. This news was followed a few days later by a decision made by the Department of the Interior halting new coal leases while the Department launches a comprehensive review of the federal coal program.

“Even as our nation transitions to cleaner energy sources, building on smart policies and progress already under way, we know that coal will continue to be an important domestic energy source in the years ahead,” said Secretary Jewell at the time. “We haven’t undertaken a comprehensive review of the program in more than 30 years, and we have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers and takes into account its impacts on climate change.”

The new Greenpeace report, Corporate Welfare for Coal, is available here.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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