For decades, coal was the dominant fuel for electric power generation in the U.S.  Although advances in natural gas generation technology allowed natural gas to become increasingly competitive with coal and other generation options, regulatory constraints and market  influences drove coal to remain the overwhelming source for baseload power throughout most of the 20th century.  However, in the early 21st century the advent of horizontal drilling as an adjunct to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) significantly reduced the price as well as the price volatility of natural gas.  These changes, combined with increased environmental regulation for coal-fired generation, have led to natural gas surpassing coal in terms of net U.S. generation.

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