OTTAWA — Among President Donald Trump’s schemes to restore U.S. economic greatness perhaps none is more misguided than his pledge to put coal miners back to work.
“We will unleash the full power of American energy, ending job-killing restrictions on shale oil, natural gas and clean, beautiful coal,” Mr. Trump told congressional Republicans at their recent annual retreat in Philadelphia.
Lawmakers cheered. “And we are going to put our coal miners back to work,” he added. The applause grew louder. Good luck with that. Coal isn’t clean, it isn’t beautiful, and most compellingly, it is not economic.
Powerful market forces – more so than the “job-killing” regulations Mr. Trump rails about – are unstoppably pushing the sooty fuel and its workers to extinction. And no rational economic policies will bring those jobs back.
If he’s serious, Mr. Trump would have to reopen dozens of shuttered coal-fired power plants, build new ones, reverse the shale gas revolution and double the price of natural gas. He would also have to sell a whole lot more U.S. coal to China – a country he seems intent on drawing into a nasty trade war.
And finally, he would have to convince mining companies to replace self-driving trucks and robotic drillers with an army of diggers with pickaxes and wheelbarrows.
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