Regulating the Environmental Effects of the Coal-Fired Electricity Life-Cycle: U.S. Permitting Experience and Policy Recommendations for China


In recent years, international attention has turned to the magnitude and growth rate of coal consumption in China, particularly for coal-fired electricity generation. As the United States (U.S.) Energy Information Administration noted recently, coal consumption in China since 2000 has accounted for more than 80 percent of the global increase in coal use, including growth of more than nine percent in 2011. As a result, today China consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. However, as the use of coal in China increases, opportunities also arise to reduce the environmental impacts of its use.

Prepared by the China Sustainable Energy Program (CSEP) and the China Program of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), this report summarizes the U.S. permitting regime for coal throughout its life-cycle, including extraction (mining), transportation, processing, combustion (electricity generation), and waste product management, and offers recommendations for China based on the experiences of the U.S.