President Donald Trump’s promise to revive the dwindling coal industry in the United States will never come to fruition.
Despite Trump’s promises to simply lift regulations off of the dwindling coal industry, it will not be enough to bring the coal industry back to its former glory. Concerns regarding the environment and the decrease in coal demand from neighboring countries, as well as the competition involving the natural-gas industry, are all reasons why Trump is facing an uphill battle in restoring the campaign promises he’s made.
“Get ready to work your asses off,” said Trump to a roaring crowd of supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, during his campaign against Hillary Clinton.
Trump has run a long campaign, convincing rust-belters that Obama’s increase in regulations has been the reason for so much suffering in the region. His strategy very much paid off after winning coal mining states like Ohio and Kentucky. It’s also no wonder Trump won West Virginia by a margin of 44 percent. Trump was also the first Republican candidate to win Pennsylvania since 1988.
For the largely unemployed coal miner who has felt abandoned by Washington for years now, these promises seem pretty enticing, and they made their priorities clear with their candidate of choice.
Trump’s promise consisted of rolling back regulations, offering tax breaks to investments in infrastructure and ending a ban on mining on federal land. Environmentalists warned that these regulations were there to protect rivers and drinking water, and the impact could be devastating.
But these promises may prove to be empty ones or have very little effect on the coal industry. Considering the decrease in regulating oil and the overabundance of cheap natural gas flooding the market, it seems there just simply isn’t a demand for coal that there once was.
Foreign countries are not buying coal like they once were. Countries like Canada and the Netherlands have made promises to reduce their dependence on coal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, four of the five countries that buy U.S. coal imports are buying less and less coal every year.
The decline in the Appalachian coal industry has been a long one. Jobs have been declining since the Reagan administration, many people point to Obama’s Clean Energy Bill as the cause of the coal depression, but the reason may simply be that coal doesn’t sell like it once did.
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S has lost 191,000 jobs in the mining industry since April of 2014. This is largely because of natural gas being a massive competitor to the coal industry. By making promises to end regulations on both the coal and gas industry simultaneously, there is little reason for coal demand to surge, considering the massive gas shales scattered throughout the U.S.
Marc Apesos can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org