He can roll back regulations, slash government jobs, pull out of global treaties and strip the tax benefits from renewable energy. But can Donald Trump make coal great again? Probably not, say energy industry leaders and analysts.
Coal’s share of the U.S. electricity mix has plunged to less than a third today from about half in 2008, the result of cheap natural gas and stepped-up efforts to curb carbon emissions. While Trump, promising to restore jobs, drew boisterous crowds in mining country under slogans such as “Trump Digs Coal,” his best efforts may do little more than halt the industry’s steep decline.
“Donald Trump has the courage, the passion and the commitment to get it done,” said Robert E. Murray, the industry’s most outspoken champion and chief executive officer of Murray Energy Corp. “But I do not see an increase in the market for coal.”
In May, Murray endorsed Trump after meeting the then-candidate in New York. At the time, Murray said Trump cares “very much” about coal miners and coal-mining jobs. On Wednesday, Murray said that “nobody” worked harder to make Trump president than he did, adding, “and we’re not done yet.”
Now Murray said he’s positioning his company, the country’s largest privately held coal miner, to compete in a U.S. market in which power plants consistently burn about 650 million to 700 million tons of thermal coal a year. That’ll be enough to keep coal’s share in the power mix stable, he said in an interview.
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