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Natural gas is now cheap, abundant and cleaner. So most who can are switching to natural gas. NG prices are likely to stay down as long as its abundant and there are lots of shale gas parcels yet to be drilled. So as soon as financing becomes available, there will be more drilling. In the US this is likely to be go on for years.

Coal is a dirty fuel. US EPA is making it more difficult to use and forcing some older plants to invest or shut down. Cheaper to build new NG plant than retrofit an old coal fired plant.

Global warming is a major theme internationally. So coal is under fire even in China.

And the global economy is slowing reducing demand for energy.

CSX and Norfolk Southern serve the eastern US coal fields and have been major exporters of steam coal.

We notice that major producers like Patriot Coal and now Arch Coal are declaring bankruptcy.

These are tough times for coal. Long term investors might do well if they buy right, but it may take a long time for coal to return to prominence. Most think it will always be a shadow of its former self.
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