Impacts of US Coal Transportation


How have coal shipments changed since the passing of the Acid Rain Program of the Clean Air Act in 1990? Are we simply trading one set of environmental impacts for another?

This project looks at the environmental impacts of coal transportation around the US. We combine data from the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration with transport network data and coal mine and coal power plant locations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

An initial analysis focused on rail transport to determine that a significant percentage of total life cycle carbon dioxide emissions from coal-powered electricity generation are associated with transportation of the fuel by rail.

Recent work on this project has expanded the scope beyond just rail transport to build a multi-modal network model encompassing road, rail, and water. Details of this work can be found in the Story Map below: