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Ponds of coal bed methane water cover in the Powder River Basin near Gillette, Wyoming, 2007. Photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The coal mining industry in the top coal-producing region of the U.S. is struggling despite President Trump's efforts to prop up the coal industry nationwide, according to AP.

Why it matters: Many coal producers in the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana are filing for bankruptcy or consolidating as U.S. coal production has slid 30% since peaking in 2008 and small rural communities across the nation face economic uncertainty.

Context: 3 of 9 coal producers in the Powder River Basin have filed for bankruptcy since March, while 2 others said they would merge.

  • Blackjewel, the owner of several mines across the country, in July dismissed most employees and shut down the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, two of the highest-producing mines in the country. Negotiations to reopen the mines have stagnated.
  • Coal has buoyed the communities in the region and Wyoming's and Montana's state budgets for decades, but power companies are phasing out coal-fired power plants and switching to cheaper natural gas furnaces and solar and wind generators amid global concern about climate change.

By the numbers: About half of U.S. electricity came from coal-fired plants a decade ago, but coal now comprises only 30%.

  • Yes, but: The Powder River Basin still has a lot of recoverable coal left, and carbon-capturing technology installed in coal-fired power plants could make coal a viable option.

The bottom line: Carbon-capturing tech is still in its infancy, and experts say retrofitting power plants with the technology will be expensive.

Go deeper: The past and potential of replacing coal-fired power, heating with gas

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios