President Donald Trump is taking bold steps to boost the declining coal industry, but the moves won’t restore many of the jobs lost by coal miners in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania who helped the president win his job in the White House.
Trump will sign an order Tuesday to dismantle the very foundations of his predecessor’s government-wide effort to combat climate change, according to details provided to Bloomberg News. It will resume the sale of coal from federal land, lift carbon dioxide limits on power plants and end Obama-era mandates that agencies consider global warming in a broad range of decisions.
“A lot of people are going to be put back to work, a lot of coal miners are going back to work,” Trump told a rally in Louisville, Kentucky last week, previewing the announcement. “The miners are coming back.”
Yet, as sweeping as the order is, it won’t immediately boost demand for coal, which is facing stiff competition from cheaper natural gas and a boom in wind and solar power. It comes as mining employment has been falling for decades as dozers and conveyor belts replaced humans with pickaxes and mules.
“The reality is that the demand for coal has been decreasing for a while and it’s going to continue to decrease,” Sheldon Stone, a partner and head of restructuring at the investment banking firm Amherst Partners, LLC, said in an interview. “Even by doing this you are not going to be bringing mining jobs back.”
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