In June of 2013, former science adviser to the Obama administration Daniel Schrag told the New York Times:
The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.
The president’s war is working.
According to a recently released report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), more than 80 percent of the nearly 18 gigawatts of electric generating capacity retired in 2015 was conventional steam coal. This represents 4.6 percent of the nation’s coal capacity at the start of 2015.
The Energy Information Administration gives two primary reasons for the recent decline in coal. First is that companies have switched fuel because of the abundance of inexpensive natural gas from fracking. The other reason for coal’s demise is much more problematic: burdensome regulations devoid of any significant direct environmental benefit.