Of all the empty promises Donald Trump made on the campaign trail in 2016, perhaps the cruelest one was the vow he made to coal miners that the coal mining industry would come roaring back.
It hasn’t. And it never will.
In the first year of the Trump presidency, the administration announced with much fanfare that it would develop plans to prop up and subsidize both the coal and the nuclear industries. That was supposed to be a project run by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who proposed several plans over the last year to force power companies to keep coal plants running, all in the name of national security.
But none of the bailout plans went anywhere, and it seems that the administration has thrown in the coal-stained towel (at least for now) in the move to subsidize the failing industry. The main concern was who would pay for the multibillion-dollar bailouts.
On top of that, electricity generated from coal-powered plants has hit a 35-year low. Coal company bankruptcies in states such as West Virginia and Colorado also are increasing. The main thing keeping the industry going right now is coal exports that go overseas to make steel, not to produce energy at home.
Using less coal is good news for the environment, as coal is one of the dirtiest sources of energy. “Coal generates the most CO2 emissions of any fossil fuel and yet remains the world’s dominant energy source,” according to the World Resources Institute, mainly because so much coal is still burned in China.
But it’s bad news for people hoping for jobs in the industry, especially the miners who lined up behind Trump in droves in places like West Virginia.