How Democrats and Republicans Continue to Screw Over Coal Miners

Coal Miners Deserve Better!

Written by Jeff Siegel
Posted November 20, 2019

Coal’s days in the U.S. are numbered.

I actually said this more than a decade ago to a group of coal investors at an energy conference in Montana. The shaking heads of dissapproval did not go unnoticed, nor did the veiled threats from a couple of deep-pockeded coal investors who “wanted a word with me.”

Of course, I didn’t present my opinions on coal to anger anyone. It was simply an observation of reality. The rapid development and expansion of renewables, along with the eventual destruction of natural gas pricing, were the primary reasons for coal’s inevitable decline.

Now certainly it would be dishonest for me to suggest that I also didn’t actually want to see a transition away from coal, as this energy source (or more specifically, the production and consumption of it), represents a huge environmental burden. And while most who made their fortunes in coal could give two shits about the health of the planet, I do care. So yes, I’m definitely happy to see coal’s once dominant role in our energy mix begin to deteriorate. What I’m not happy about is that so many hard-working folks who rely on coal mining to make a living are now out of work - and with no real prospects ahead of them.

Three years ago, Donald Trump was promising the world to coal country. He promised coal would be coming back and he was going to make sure that those pesky liberals wouldn’t deny them their paychecks. This was not only insincere, but a complete fucking lie. It was never about job security. It was just about getting votes. And in that respect, Trump succeeded. But in terms of bringing jobs back to coal country - he failed miserably. And we got another reminder of this earlier in the week after learning that the Navajo Complex, which was the largest coal-fired power plant in the western U.S. is shutting down. This one probably really stings for the government, too, as the Interior Department actually owns a 24% stake in this power plant.

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In any event, it should no longer come as a surprise to anyone that most of the remaining coal-fired power plants in the U.S. will also, very soon, go gently into that good night. So maybe it would be a good idea for those now campaigning to become the next president of the United States to visit coal country, and instead of promising to save something that simply cannot be saved, work with local governments and businesses to find ways to retrain these folks and help prepare them for life without coal. Which is coming.

Certainly guys like Trump will be quick to criticize, and certainly the plastic faces on Fox News will provide him with that platform. But to continue lying to these hard-working Americans is not only unethical, it’s immoral, because deep down, these bureuacratic hustlers know that coal is dead, but the hopes and dreams of these folks can continue to be re-ignited every four years with empty rhetoric and blatant lying. We can do better. We owe it to the communities of coal workers who have been strung along for far too long.