THE END OF CHEAP COAL

23 03 2008
Published: March 19, 2008

These days, people really are taking coals to Newcastle.

 That flow is part of a vast reorganization of the global coal trade that is making the United States a major exporter for the first time in years — and helping to drive up domestic prices of the one fossil fuel the nation has in abundance.

Coal has long been a cheap and plentiful fuel source for utilities and their customers, helping to keep American electric bills relatively low.

But rising worldwide demand is turning American coal into another hot global commodity, with domestic buyers having to compete with buyers from countries like Germany and Japan.

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