Updated Thu, Nov 29, 2012 3:54 pm
A new federal report confirms what Appalachia coal producers already know: Coal will remain an important energy source, but its share of U.S. power generation will fall.
West Virginia's U.S Sen. Jay Rockefeller requested the Government Accountability Office report, released this week.
Rockefeller has long urged the industry to acknowledge the need for change. He called Wednesday for investment in technologies to make coal a cleaner fuel.
The report lays out the many competitive challenges facing Appalachian coal, including cheap, abundant natural gas and coal from other regions.
Industry leaders have said producers may stem their losses with increased exports. But the GAO says that will depend on how competitive U.S. prices are and on the quality of coal available.