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Photo of James Osborne

The WA Parish Generating Station uses coal to generate electricity, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, outside of Richmond in Fort Bend County.

The WA Parish Generating Station uses coal to generate electricity, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, outside of Richmond in Fort Bend County.

Mark Mulligan, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

WASHINGTON – U.S. coal production plummeted to an all-time low in 2019, following a brief upswing in 2017, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In 2019 the United States produced 706.3 million short tons of coal, a 7 percent decline from the previous year and the lowest level since 1965. That resulted in almost 800 lost coal mining jobs, leaving the industry at a little under 53,000 workers.

The drop came as U.S. coal consumption fell 15 percent to 586.5 million short tons, as the industry’s primary customer, the power sector, shifted towards cleaner sources of energy in a bid to address climate change.

In the first year of former president Donald Trump’s administration coal production  increased 6 percent before continuing on its longstanding decline through the remainder of his administration, according to federal data.