The uncertain future of U.S. coal communities – by Sandeep Pai and Hisham Zerriffi (The Conversation – November 11, 2018)

At a town hall meeting in Ohio in March 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said: “…I’m the only candidate who has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?”

This statement, she later admitted in her book What Happened, was her biggest regret from the campaign trail. The reason? Coal workers and communities in the United States overwhelmingly supported the rise of Donald Trump because he promised to bring back coal jobs, while Clinton had pledged new jobs and new economic investments in coal communities using clean energy.

Four key coal-producing states — Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania — collectively produce more than two-thirds of U.S. coal. In 2016, Trump received more than 30 per cent more votes than Clinton in three of those states. He also won the fourth, Pennsylvania, just not by as much.

Once he became president, Trump pledged to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and his government launched a slew of anti-climate and pro-fossil-fuel policies.

In the recent U.S. midterm elections, Republican candidates for the House of Representatives won almost all seats in coal-producing Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky with huge margins.

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