Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
Donald Trump not only spent the 2016 campaign promising that he would resurrect America’s dying coal industry, he kept offering up that false hope in 2017.
At a White House event last March, Trump announced the end to the so-called “war on coal,” and stressed “I made them this promise, we will put our miners back to work.”
Yet so far, the job gains for coal miners are virtually non-existent, with just 500 added to the payrolls since Trump took office.
But that paltry number will shrink even further when 370 miners are permanently laid off from 4 West Mine, owned by Mepco LLC, which is located on the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border.
Those just-announced layoffs are set to take place in coming months, leaving the industry with just 130 new jobs since Trump took office. That’s about the same number of employees who work at a typical Sam’s Club retail store.
So much for Trump’s empty promise to save the industry and bring back thousands of jobs.
Yet he relentlessly tries to exploit coal miners for politico gain. Indeed, the “industry is one of the purest distillations of Trump’s base, uniting right-wing business executives who hate environmental regulations and taxes along with blue-collar miners who wish America was more like it used to be when coal was king,” Politico notes.
Still, those bold 2016 campaign promises worked in the short term, especially in places like Greene County, Pennsylvania, home to the 4 West Mine that’s being shuttered.
“The county, traditionally a Democratic stronghold, went strongly for Trump in the 2016 election, with 68.4% voting for Trump and only 28.2% for Clinton,” CNN notes.
Today, it’s clear coal miners have been had.
“They voted for Trump because he said he’d bring back coal. It’s not happening,” says Blair Zimmerman, chairman of the Greene County commissioners and a retired coal miner. “There’s not been any significant change in the industry since he’s taken over.”
Meanwhile, just this week, Trump’s own appointees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan that would have subsidized coal and nuclear power plants that maintain a 90-day supply of fuel on site. Critics panned the rescue plan nothing more than a bailout for outdated energy forms.
The problem is Trump claims he’s going to revive an industry that’s been dying for many, many years.
“Promises to create more coal jobs will not be kept — indeed the industry will continue to cut payrolls,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concluded in its 2017 U.S. Coal Outlook. “These losses will be related in part to the coal industry’s long-term business model of producing more coal with fewer workers.”
So far, coal miners have just 130 jobs to show for Trump’s empty promises.