If Pacific Coast states construct sufficient coal export facilities, the United States is likely to sell heaps of coal to Asia in the years ahead, but that should cut – not raise – global emissions of greenhouse gases, according to Frank Wolak, professor of economics at Stanford University.

Over the past several years, U.S. natural gas prices have plummeted while coal prices have risen. That, combined with stricter environmental rules on coal burning, has caused U.S. electric utilities to use more natural gas-fired generators and fewer coal-fired power plants to produce electricity.

Coal’s share of U.S. electricity production has fallen from more than half 10 years ago to just a third currently.

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