|Chapter 7 - Coal|
Coal is a combination of pure carbon and hydrocarbons with varying amounts of moisture, minerals and heavy metals. It was the first fossil fuel used extensively by humans, and is still vitally important today, generating 39 percent of the world’s electricity, 49 percent of U.S. electricity and 36.5 percent of Texas’ electricity in 2006. Coal is one of the world’s most widely used fuels. Coal is found on every continent and in some 70 countries. The U.S., Russia, China and India have the world’s largest reserves. The World Coal Institute in London estimates proven world coal reserves at 984 billion metric tons (more than 1 trillion U.S. tons), enough to last for more than 190 years at current rates of consumption. In Texas in 2006, coal mining provided 2,241 jobs, earning an estimated $167.6 million in wages.3 Other contributions of coal to the economy are indirect. Texas coal is mined at the surface.