Donald Trump’s campaign promise that he was going to bring coal jobs back has not come to fruition, and in fact, more coal plants have closed during Trump’s first two years than throughout Barack Obama’s entire first term.
While running for office, Trump promised to end the United States’ “war on coal” — and those working in the industry were desperate to believe, says CNN.
At rallies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, the Trump campaign distributed signs which read “Trump Digs Coal,” and the candidate spoke to those who had lost coal jobs — or were clinging to them — and said that he could reverse the process by overturning regulations put in place by President Obama.
“We are putting our great coal miners back to work. I’m coal’s last shot.”
But former coal miner and industry consultant Art Sullivan shakes his head when asked if Trump can save the coal industry, and says that the people of coal country were lied to.
“He’s trying to get their votes. He’s lying to them.”
Sullivan says that what coal miners need to hear is that there will be new jobs in the renewable energy industry, and that those with coal jobs will get training to make the transition.
According to Sullivan, the coal industry was packed with competent and capable people.
“What you need to say to coal miners is ‘We’re going to figure out a way to give you better, safer, healthier jobs.’ These guys and the few gals are simply too good. They are too capable to simply say that we don’t need you.”
Industry experts say that coal is not coming back, but people want hope. Blair Zimmerman says that his fellow miners in Greene County, Pennsylvania, will hold onto any promise or glimmer of hope for their jobs — and the idea that the industry can be made safer.
“They wanted hope. If someone that has a sickness or a cancer and the doctor says ‘I can cure that,’ they believe… I can’t blame them or question them for trusting (Trump).”
Zimmerman is now a Pennsylvania County Commissioner, and says he is looking to the future and not the past. He says he is part of a local group hoping to convince natural gas investors from Texas to come and drill in Pennsylvania. He also says that Trump’s deregulation efforts won’t do much.
“It won’t bring back coal as king.”
Forbes reports that the downward trend for coal will continue for the rest of Trump’s term, and that acceptance would do more than denial. For now, the only thing keeping coal’s head above water is exports, and with fewer countries relying on coal, the industry will likely continue to shrink.