Trump Promised to ‘Open the Mines’ — Here’s Why That Is Unlikely

February 12, 2017 – NBC News

Trump Promised to ‘Open the Mines’ — Here’s Why That Is Unlikely

By: Jane C. Timm

In rallies across cross coal country, Donald Trump made a big, crowd-pleasing promise: He'd bring back the mining jobs.

"We're gonna open the mines," he said to big cheers in Charleston, West Virginia, as if the shuttered coal mines across eastern America's coal country could hit a switch and reinstate the jobs once he won the White House.

But experts say despite Trump's election, those jobs aren't coming back.

While regulation sped the shuttering of older coal mines in the last decade, experts say it was natural gas that turned the screws on the industry. Cleaner and cheaper, the natural gas market share is growing rapidly and putting as much — if not more — pressure on the coal industry as regulations.

"He can't bring back coal jobs in any meaningful way unless he's capable of inventing a time machine," explained Eric de Place, energy policy director of Sightline Institute, a progressive environmental nonprofit. "Waving your hands and saying you're going to bring the coal industry back is misleading at best, malicious at worst."…

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…Rick Smead, a managing director at RBN Energy who specializes in the natural gas industry, agreed with De Place's predictions for the coal market under Trump.

"It's very unlikely that coal can regain its market from natural gas where they would be hiring a lot of miners back," he said.

There is some hope to stem the losses. Murray, who has met with Trump several times to advise him on coal issues, said the president can stop future jobs from disappearing, but he can't add them back rapidly.