Coal In Appalachia

Coal In Appalachia: An Economic Analysis

CURTIS E. HARVEY
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130jqp2
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  • Book Info
    Coal In Appalachia
    Book Description:

    Coal, the nation's most abundant fossil fuel and the only one that is exported, represents one of our most valuable natural resources. This study undertakes a thorough review of the economics of the Appalachian coal industry. It establishes, first of all, the international framework within which the American and the Appalachian coal industry function. It next examines the underlying principles that govern the production of and the demand for coal. This demand is influenced not only by price but also by world politics, the economic well-being of dozens of countries, government regulation, and the availability of fuel substitutes. Included are a comprehensive treatment of the regulation of the industry, the effects of coal utilization on air quality, land reclamation, safety, transport, and legislation pertaining to port use.

    In conclusion, Harvey looks at the prospects for Appalachian coal, considering the impact of technologies such as fluidized bed combustion and coal-water slurry and the issue of energy policy and fuel alternatives. The picture that emerges is not unexpected -- an industry whose recovery and enduring health depend on resurgence of world and domestic economic activity, social and political stability, and government regulation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5890-7
    Subjects: Business, Economics, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. I COAL: AN OVERVIEW
    (pp. 1-13)

    Coal is a combustible carbonaceous rock of diverse constituent elements and of variable chemical compositions. It is believed that coal was formed during the Carboniferous period 300 million years ago. As plants, trees, and other organic materials died, they did not decay completely but began to accumulate through normal sedimentary processes. They formed distinct strata, today’s coal seams. It is curious that a relatively narrow coal stratum just a few feet thick can and often does extend over hundreds of square miles.

    Scientists suspect that natural burial of organic materials with other organic materials occurred rapidly and that differences in...

  5. II PRINCIPLES OF ENERGY RESOURCE ALLOCATION
    (pp. 14-28)

    Before examining the economics and the structure of the Appalachian coal industry, a review is in order of the framework within which this examination will be conducted. The approach pursued here is to analyze the industry in terms of governing demand and supply relationships. Also considered are legislative, sociological, and historical influences insofar as they affect the demand for and supply of coal. No new modeling is undertaken for this book, but relationships discovered in past modeling efforts are discussed. Their value lies in their ability to enhance our understanding of how the industry has functioned in the past, what...

  6. III DEMAND FOR APPALACHIAN COAL
    (pp. 29-56)

    Energy resource allocation, the subject of the previous chapter, was discussed in basic theoretical terms. This chapter and the next deal specifically with Appalachian coal. They attempt to give the reader an in-depth knowledge of how the market for Appalachian coal has been affected by political and sociological events as well as by market forces. After a brief preview of the overall market for Appalachian coal, we will look extensively at the two forces which act together to determine Appalachian coal sales (or purchases) and prices. These two forces are, of course, demand and supply. Demand will be examined in...

  7. IV SUPPLY OF APPALACHIAN COAL
    (pp. 57-88)

    The supply of coal offered for sale by mining firms and their brokers depends on cost, market, economic, and institutional factors that are in constant flux. The economics of some of the variables that influence supply has already been discussed in chapter 2. In this section historic data are used not only to support the economic arguments but also to complete the framework for analysis of the industry.

    Approximately 50% of the national output of coal originates in the Appalachian Coal Basin. Over the past ten years this share in total output has declined steadily. In fact, as table 13...

  8. V REGULATION IN THE COAL INDUSTRY
    (pp. 89-103)

    Twenty years ago U.S. industry faced few environmental limitations. The environment was regarded largely as a public resource for all to use at no cost. As the demand for environmental use expanded, however, scarcities soon developed. Today the environment is an important consideration in nearly all economic activities. It has become clear that at zero cost too many of the good qualities of the environment will be consumed to the detriment of public welfare. The quality of air, land, and water resources, together with general health and safety, has deteriorated at an unacceptable rate; environmental resources have been depleted much...

  9. VI ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMAN ISSUES
    (pp. 104-120)

    The burning of coal, like that of other fossil fuels, leads to the emission into the atmosphere of residuals that have a detrimental impact on the environment. The emitted elements include carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons.

    The most troublesome element is SO2. Its emission, first of all, affects human health. It is believed by some, although the scientific evidence is far from conclusive, that when SO2concentrations are much higher than normal ambient quantities, physiological responses occur in the long run. It is thought that there also exists some...

  10. VII COAL TRANSPORT AND EXPORT
    (pp. 121-130)

    To virtually all coal producers, the cost of transporting their product to market is of vital importance. Transport can involve one or several types of carriers.

    A modest amount of coal is moved from mine mouth to rail tipple by conveyor belt. These conveyors require a substantial initial capital investment, involve maintenance costs, and are relatively inflexible. They can be realigned and extended, but their reach is limited. Generally motor carriers are more appealing for the movement of coal to the tipple. These carriers fall into three classes. Owner operator carriers are individuals who own one or more trucks; usually...

  11. VIII PROSPECTS FOR APPALACHIAN COAL
    (pp. 131-144)

    It is sometimes said that predicting the future resembles a game of chance. Accurate prediction does, of course, involve something more than fortuity. This chapter attempts to meld the lessons of the past with educated intuition and to arrive at responsible conclusions as to what can be expected in the coal industry.

    The first assumption made by economists who attempt predictions is that human nature and behavior are governed by basic laws of economics that remain relatively constant over time. That is, we tend to respond individually and collectively as our predecessors did. Implied when one predicts the future is...

  12. APPENDIX
    (pp. 145-203)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 204-210)
  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 211-216)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 217-220)