Short View: Trump’s coal hard truths – by Alan Livsey (Financial Times – December 21, 2016)

Donald Trump’s holiday gift season actually starts in January, the 20th to be exact. From then he must deliver on all the promises he made in his presidential campaign over the past year or so.

One of those promises was to hand out sacks of coal, not to the bad kids, but ideally to every American. Get everyone using more coal: stop this fad for renewable energy, and keep the Environmental Protection Agency in check over clean-air regulations that reduce demand for coal.

Produce more coal and the miners in states such as West Virginia can get their jobs back, the thinking goes. That state has suffered the brunt of job cuts in that sector.

Employment in the US coal mining industry has dropped 40 per cent over five years. Of the 36,000 mining jobs lost in the country, almost half went in West Virginia.

Unfortunately for miners, Mr Trump also favours more exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas, especially in shale formations. Shale gas, along with oil, is a major US success story. Gas production has surged over the past decade. That gas competes directly with coal in the generation of electricity.

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