The Chicago Cubs came from behind to win the World Series and then the outspoken, underdog Donald J. Trump did the same thing in the U.S. presidential election. Both upsets shocked a lot of people except for their die-hard supporters. With only a few exceptions, coal operators couldn’t ask for better results from this election. They supported Trump and he swept the coalfields, carrying 69% in West Virginia, 70% in Wyoming and 63% in Kentucky. While Republicans gained a clear majority, some pro-coal Democrats were also elected to office, such as Jim Justice who is now the governor of West Virginia. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to make the miners
On the campaign trail, Trump promised to make the miners “proud” again and his election now opens the door for broad regulatory relief. Specifically, he promised to overturn the Stream Protection Rule and the Clean Power Plan, which may be tossed out by the Supreme Court when the current vacancy is filled. He has been quite vocal about his feelings toward climate change and unfair trade practices. Energy independence and jobs were two of the pillars for his campaign platform. If he can jump-start the economy and grow jobs, the coal business should benefit, too.
Billing it as the America First energy plan, Trump plans to unleash an energy revolution. He has declared American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal, and he routinely talks about the use of clean coal. Trump said he would eliminate the moratorium on coal leasing and rescind all job-destroying executive actions signed by President Barack Obama, which includes the Climate Action Plan.
In his first 100-day action plan, he said he would save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda. “We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” Trump said. “Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved. Policy decisions will be public and transparent.”
“We’re going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns,” Trump said. “We are going to conserve our beautiful natural habitats, reserves and resources.” From an environmental standpoint, his priorities are simple: clean air and clean water. He said political activists will no longer write the rules. Instead, Trump said he would work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature.
Sounds great, right? Can he save the coal industry? Maybe as it exists now, but it’s highly unlikely that demand will grow to peak levels again before 2020 or 2021, unless he is actually able to kick-start manufacturing in the Midwest. But, he can stop the bleeding, level the playing field and get the industry headed in the right direction again. That’s really what the coal business wanted the most: a fair shake.
P.S.—The Coal Age editorial staff would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.
Steve Fiscor, Coal Age Editor-in-Chief, [email protected]