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Pity the poor coal industry. While its product is still used to generate just under 40% of the nation’s electricity, that’s down from more than half at the start of the decade. In fact, due to its constantly falling price, natural gas may soon overtake coal as the nation’s major electricity-generating fuel.

While coal is abundant and relatively cheap, it has some big problems: it’s an environmental mess to mine; it’s filthy when burned; and, it releases too much carbon into the air. With cost and environmental pressures mounting on coal producers, it’s no wonder that more than two dozen coal companies have gone out of business in the last few years.

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