Trump will bring back all the coal-mining jobs!

Also, he would’ve won the popular vote but for those millions of fraudulent votes for Clinton.  Also, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Alas, in Trump sold many of his supporters a bill of good with this (among many such con jobs).  Brad Plumer with the reality on coal jobs:

All year, Donald Trump has been promising to rescue the US coal industry by repealing various Obama-era pollution rules and ending the “war on coal.” And all year, analysts have pointed out that he probably can’t stop the collapse of the coal industry — since coal’s woes go far beyond the Environmental Protection Agency.

But if you want a perfect example of why Trump will struggle to bring back coal, just look at Michigan.

Last weekend, the CEO of Michigan’s largest electric utility reiterated that his company is still planning to retire eight of its nine remaining coal plants by 2030 — whether or not Trump tries to repeal President Obama’s climate policies. “All of those retirements are going to happen regardless of what Trump may or may not do with the Clean Power Plan,” DTE Energy’s Gerry Anderson told’s Emily Lawler.

Coal’s woes go far beyond Obama’s climate policies

Anderson’s reasoning was simple. Coal is no longer the economic choice for generating electricity, due to relentless competition from cheaper (and cleaner) natural gas and wind power. In Michigan, a new coal plant costs $133 per megawatt hour. A natural gas plant costs half that. Even wind contracts now cost about $74.52 per megawatt hour, after federal tax credits. “I don’t know anybody in the country who would build another coal plant,” Anderson said. [emphasis mine]

 What’s more, Anderson added, surveys show that most of Michigan’s consumers want to add more renewables “if it can be done at reasonable cost.”

It’s not just Michigan. This dynamic is playing out all over the country, as coal plant after coal plant succumbs to competition from cheap natural gas and wind. Over at Politico, Michael Grunwald estimates that US power plants are now on track to emit 27 percent less carbon dioxide in 2016 than they did in 2005.

What’s remarkable is that this is all happening before Obama’s Clean Power Plan even takes effect…

True, Trump could still try other moves to help coal. One big reason coal plants have become so expensive is that they have to comply with a slew of EPA air pollution rules on particulates, smog, mercury, and so on (coal is the dirtiest fuel, after all). If a Trump administration were to scale back these rules, the cost of coal power would drop a bit. Likewise, if Congress were to get rid of federal tax credits that subsidize wind and solar, they’d be less competitive against coal.

But none of these strategies are guaranteed to work. A surprising number of Republicans in Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), are actually in favor of those renewable tax credits. What’s more, rewriting every last Obama-era air pollution rule could be a time-consuming slog — and in any case, utilities have already bought costly scrubbers for their coal plants to comply with things like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). That can’t be undone.

On top of all that, Trump has vowed to ease regulations on fracking, which will just mean more cheap shale gas — which, again, could hurt coal.

Sure, Trump has done a lot of things differently, but he cannot change basic laws of economics.  And if coal power plants are more expensive than alternatives, they just won’t get built.  But, hey, lets just keep on blaming Obama and all those pesky government regulations.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Trump will bring back all the coal-mining jobs!

  1. Jon K says:

    Don’t we export quite a bit of our coal? As long as developing nations want our coal – and do not care about the environmental aspects of burning it – there will be coal mining. It just won’t be at the scale it once was. And with the US having as much oil and natural gas as Saudi Arabia – thanks to fracking and shale oil – it will continue to be a less attractive option for domestic energy production.

    So from an economic and environmental (as burning natural gas emits half the pollution of burning coal) perspective coal loses. It is really disingenuous for Trump to pretend otherwise. But facts do not matter.

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