Federal officials now say coal accounts for slightly more than one-third of the electricity generated in the United States. Coal's percentage of the market hasn't been that low in decades.
The Federal Energy Information Administration says coal's share of the market slipped to 34 percent in March. A number of factors have contributed to the decline, including a warm spring, regulatory changes, and historically low natural gas prices. Natural gas accounted for 30 percent of power generation in March.
The figure for coal-generated power is the lowest since the start of Richard Nixon's second term as President, in January of 1973. Power generated by coal dropped by 29 billion kilowatt hours between March of 2011 and March of this year. During that same period natural gas generation increased by 27 billion kilowatt hours.