Bass Connections Faculty Team Member. Coal in America: Chronicling and Analyzing Its Economic and Social History. 2018 - 2019

Projects & Field Work

Primary Theme: Energy & Environment

Coal has been an historically important energy resource in the United States. It remains important in many parts of the country, but has experienced a recent severe decline that seems likely to continue. Coal is still king in many parts of the U.S., even if it sometimes seems like the throne has been abdicated. Miners and their families no longer live in company-owned housing like their early-20th-century forebears, but the coal industry is often still the nucleus around which their social, economic and political lives revolve. It informs identities and offers relatively high wages in areas where decently paying jobs are scarce. In good times, those wages circulate through the local economy, bolstering businesses and generating tax revenue to support schools and much-needed public services. These are not, however, good times. Coal employment has been in a tailspin for the past three decades, even as annual production figures have remained at or above record highs. Since 1980, the industry has shed more than 160,000 jobs, with 60,000 of those coming since 2011. Trends in power generation and in the mining industry itself point toward a world that will likely soon need less coal, and even fewer coal miners.

Service Performed By

  • Murray, Brian  Research Professor in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy


  • Bass Connections Faculty Team Member


  • 2018 - 2019

Service or Event Name

  • Coal in America: Chronicling and Analyzing Its Economic and Social History

Geographic Region