"Even though U.S. coal production remained strong over the past decade, reaching record levels of production, coal is losing its share of overall U.S. energy production primarily to natural gas. One of the big questions for the industry is how to penetrate the overseas market, particularly in steam coal, to compensate for declining domestic demand. As U.S. energy policy and environmental regulations are constantly debated, there is ongoing congressional interest in the role of coal in meeting U.S. and global energy needs. The question may not be whether the domestic production of coal is here to stay but, rather, how much U.S. coal will be mined, what type, and under what regulatory framework. Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics show that more than half (55%) of U.S. coal reserves are located in the West, dominated by Montana and Wyoming, which account for 43%. When including the top five producing states (three of which are in the East), 70% of U.S. coal reserves are accounted for. The United States government owns about one third, or 87 billion short tons (BST), of U.S. domestic reserves."
CRS Report for Congress, R43011