CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Global use of coal is on the upswing. Although its share of U.S. electricity production has slipped from what it had been a decade ago, coal is the fuel of choice around the world. The United States is helping to meet demand for coal abroad, exporting record amounts to Europe and Asia.
If we're smart, we shouldn't be content with just exporting coal. We ought to jump at the opportunity to demonstrate and then sell advanced coal technologies and American know-how to China, India and other countries whose economic growth requires more and better use of coal.
What's important to recognize is that our nation's success with two other fossil fuels -- oil and natural gas recovered from shale formations -- should be the model to follow.
Today, the United States is the world's largest producer of natural gas and could overtake Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil by 2020. These remarkable developments are a product of what's come to be known as the shale revolution. An innovative combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has unlocked vast amounts of oil and gas in this country that for decades were thought to be out of reach.
As a result, U.S. fracking technology is in greater demand abroad. Despite the discovery of vast shale deposits in many parts of the world, the U.S. is the only country currently producing significant volumes of shale oil and gas. Even China, which experts believe has the world's largest shale gas reserves, is struggling to get production going.
From South America to Europe and Asia, governments are turning to the United States for help in launching shale revolutions of their own. And we've responded, dispatching oil and gas experts to Argentina, Mexico, Poland and China, among other countries with large shale formations.
Why not capture the booming international market for advanced coal technology in much the same way? And do it in a way that creates mining and manufacturing jobs here in the United States?