Coal, like other commodities, has a supply and demand market that affects our economy. Currently, it is a relatively cheap source of power that we can use to meet the high market demand for electricity. Its future supply to the market (and corresponding price) will be contingent upon its natural, finite supply. The additional development of clean, renewable, alternative energy sources may decrease its market demand in the future.
If you would like to measure coal’s impact on our economy in a concrete way, consider the findings of this study:
“A study commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University examined the value of coal to our nation’s economy. These researchers looked at direct jobs associated with coal and other derivative jobs that came about because of access to low-cost energy. They estimated that by 2015 coal-fueled electric generation would both directly and indirectly contribute around $1 trillion in gross economic output, $362 billion in annual household income and 6.8 million job-years.”
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