"Objective analysis by the Energy Information Administration affirms the ready availability of more than a 200-year U.S. coal supply, and based on NMA analysis, this is a conservative estimate," said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the industry group.
During last year's presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney frequently touted the nation's coal reserves in criticizing Obama administration policies he said hurt the industry.
"We have 250 years of coal -- why wouldn't we use it?" Romney said in speeches and campaign ads.
But in a major report five years earlier, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the best estimate it could confirm was that U.S. coal reserves would last less than half as long as Romney projected.
"The United States is endowed with a vast amount of coal," said the report, written by a panel of geologists, engineers and industry officials for the National Academy's National Research Council.
"Despite significant uncertainties in generating reliable estimates of the nation's coal resources and reserves, there are sufficient economically mineable reserves to meet anticipated needs through 2030," said the report, written at the request of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
"Further into the future, there is probably sufficient coal to meet the nation's needs for more than 100 years at current rates of consumption," the report said. "However, it is not possible to confirm the often-quoted suggestion that there is a sufficient supply of coal for the next 250 years."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.