WASHINGTON — President Trump was in a celebratory mood early last spring as he prepared to sign an executive order rolling back environmental protections reviled by the nation’s coal industry.
Turning to the miners beside him at the ceremony, Trump repeated a promise that he made often during his campaign for president. “You’re going back to work,” he said to nods of approval and applause.
But not much has changed for the nation’s ailing coal industry since Trump moved into the White House. Coal employment and production are up just slightly, coal consumption is down and coal prices have fallen a little below where they were the day that Trump took office.
“I don’t think Trump has had any effect on coal so far,” said Noah Kaufman, a research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.
The data may not show it, but coal leaders are adamant that Trump already has had a positive impact on their industry. For the first time in years, they say, miners are daring to feel optimistic about coal’s prospects.