Energy

Coal Bankruptcies Follow Trump Out of Office

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Trump's pledge to resurrect the dying coal industry was a centerpiece of his campaign in 2016. He promised to end President Obama's "war on coal," remember? But the war never ended because there was no war to begin with.

Trump and his regime pledged to bring back Big Coal by reversing the Obama administration's regulations -- and they largely followed through by doing that -- but the vast majority of those regulations were never legally in effect to begin with. They were never on books; never materially hit the bottom line of any coal companies.

Trump's promises were never substantively real and a new wave of bankruptcies are following him out the door.

The coal mining industry has lost 8,000 jobs, or 15% of its workforce, over the last 12 months, according to the November jobs report.

And last week two more coal companies, Lighthouse Resources and White Stallion Energy, both filed for bankruptcy. They were at least the fourth and fifth coal miners to file for bankruptcy in the last five months, according to information on BankruptcyData.com, following filings earlier this year by Hopewell Mining, FM Coal and CLI USA. [...]

Increased competition from lower-cost sources of energy, primarily natural gas, has been coal's downfall -- it's not environmental regulation that's killing coal demand.

I would call this a tragedy, but sympathy is in low supply for areas of the country and industries that supported Trump twice.

But Trump wasn't alone or the first Republican to dishonestly pander to the coal industry. Elected Republicans and candidates have been lying to coal country for years. They've made big promises that could never be fulfilled while refusing to support these constituents in any other way.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton ran on a platform that explicitly called for reinvesting and redeveloping Appalachia to prepare for a future without a coal; a future that is still coming after four years of Trump, but she received nothing but scorn for that.

I don't know how much longer Republicans can continue to pretend that coal's resurrection is just around the corner, but when they finally stop the end might be accompanied by a call for the same investment that Clinton called for in 2016.

Or maybe not. I am reminded that Republicans have done nothing about the coronavirus pandemic in the last eight months and the states getting hit the hardest are red states. Maybe having an economic policy to speak of isn't even necessary when you can coast to election on political grievances alone. Maybe they'll never need to stop playing pretend.