The United States is a net exporter of coal. However, some coal is still imported, mostly for power plants on the eastern and southern coasts of the country, where it is cheaper to ship in coal by sea from South America than transport it from mines in the northern and western United States.
In the third quarter of 2017, the U.S. exported 24.6 million short tons of coal (12.5% of total production) to dozens of countries around the world; the largest markets were India (11.7% of all exports), the Netherlands (10.7%), and South Korea (10.6%).
In the third quarter of 2017, the U.S. imported 2.3 million short tons of coal, mostly from Colombia (77%), Canada (13%), and Indonesia (9%).
Coal exports decreased from 2012 to 2016 as U.S. coal production declined, mostly because cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources decreased the demand for coal as a fuel for electricity generation. Since late 2016, coal exports have increased due to a slight increase in production and a continued decrease in U.S. coal consumption. Third-quarter 2017 coal exports were roughly 25% below 2012 levels.
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- On February 17, 2018