Establishments in this industry primarily sell coal, wood, and other fuels, not elsewhere classified.
Other Fuel Dealers
According to the National Mining Association, 2004 coal production in the U.S. totaled approximately 1.1 billion tons. This was about the same amount produced in 1998, with 940 million tons going for domestic use and the remainder being exported. Over 87 percent of U.S. coal was sold to utilities in 1998. Approximately 3 percent was sold to the industrial, residential, commercial, and transportation sectors. Americans were projected to consume 580 million cubic meters of wood and wood products at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Most U.S. fuel wood is sold to electric companies.
In 1998 the U.S. imported $9.4 billion dollars more of forest products than it exported. U.S. wood exports have dropped 20 percent since 1994, while foreign wood imports have increased 33 percent. At the same time, developing countries burn nearly two million tons of wood fuel each day. Wood fuel supplies are up to 95 percent of domestic energy in these countries and also contributes to commercial and industrial needs. Because wood produces heat at less than half the cost of gas and oil, in the mid-2000s, some in the industry were hopeful that wood products would be incorporated more readily as part of fuel supplies on a larger scale. Wood brokers were hoping to break into the larger non-industrial market by touting the benefits of biomass energy, which included reduced emission potential.
Companies in this industry are affected mainly by production levels of the products they sell and by customers' use of competing fuel sources, such as petroleum and natural gas. Coal was the leading source of fuel used in the United States until the 1920s, when the growing popularity of automobiles and developments in the aviation industry introduced new fuels. Meanwhile, the coal industry over-expanded, which led to intense competition among coal mines and a decline in coal prices, both wholesale and retail. By the 1940s, the coal...