EDITOR’S NOTE: Wise newspapermen and newspaperwomen always leave themselves an out, and so it was with us when we announced our summer vacation. We said we might be back sooner than our announced return of July 4 if events warranted, and so it has come to pass that (at least) one of our scribes has gotten a bellyful of Trump and decided he just had to write about it. And so The Shinbone Star is back, if a bit irregularly at first. It may still take awhile before this old engine is cranking, but here we go!
* * *
During the run-up to the 2020 presidential sweepstakes The Shinbone Star will highlight Big Lies uttered and promoted by the current occupant of the White House that hurt the working men and women of America. Today we tackle Donald’s boastful lies that he was going to put the country’s coal miners back to work.
Coal miners take off your rose-colored glasses — you know the ones provided by Donald J. Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. Stop listening to his boasts about how he’s going to save your industry.
Recall, if you will, these promises made on the campaign trail three years ago and again last year during a “presidential” rally in coal country.
At a May 2016 gathering of coal mining families in Charleston, W. Va., Trump told the crowd: “If I win, we’re going to bring those miners back. You’re going to be so proud of your president. For those miners, get ready, because you’re going to be working your asses off.”
At a November 2018 rally in West Virginia as president of our country, Trump told the state’s coal miners: “You’re back in business.”
Fact check, Donald: Employment of coal miners in 2018 stood at about of 50,000 down from a peak of 883,000 in 1923. The best that can be said of coal industry employment since Trump took office is that it has stabilized; it’s not dropping like a rock at the moment, industry experts say.
Let’s be blunt. His promises are simply Big Lies. Look at the hard facts about the future of your industry.
Coal as a major source of energy is in a death spiral that started decades ago. This is not “fake news” generated by mainstream media outlets or 2020 Democratic presidential candidates forecasting doom and gloom results about the industry you and/or your family built your lives around for generations.
It’s coal industry analysts providing clear and concise insight, insiders who study information about mines closing, mining companies filing for bankruptcy and jobs being lost in the process of the industry slowly dying.
Facts from the Energy Information Administration (EIA): In 2018, coal mining decreased to 755 million short tons, and American coal consumption reached its lowest point in nearly 40 years. In 2017, U.S. coal mining was 775 million short tons. Note the decline happened on The Donald’s watch.
Here’s some more reality that Trump won’t share with you (source: Wikipedia):
- In 2015, four publicly traded U.S. coal companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, including Patriot Coal Corporation, Walter Energy and the fourth-largest Alpha Natural Resources.
- By January 2016, more than 2 percent of coal production was in bankruptcy in the United States including the top two producers Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. When Arch filed for bankruptcy protection, the price of coal had dropped 50 percent since 2011 and it was $4.5 billion in debt. Arch Coal emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2016.
- In October 2018, Westmoreland Coal Company filed for bankruptcy protection. On May 10, 2019, the third largest U.S. coal company by production, Cloud Peak Energy, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Some 65 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity have gone offline since 2011 with another 41 gigawatts pending retirement and 105 gigawatts at risk of closure, according to BloombergNEF.
Nicholas Steckler, head of U.S. power for BloombergNEF, told Bloomberg News recently that the U.S. is experiencing “a wave of coal retirements — and we don’t think we’re near the end of it. Coal is inferior to natural gas in many ways today — it’s less flexible, it’s higher cost, even its fuel is generally more expensive, and, of course, it’s dirty. It has so many reasons stacked against it.”
CNN recently talked with Art Sullivan who has worked as a coal miner, mine manager and industry consultant in the U.S. and around the world for more than 50 years.
When CNN asked him about The Donald’s promises to miners that he will save their jobs, Sullivan was blunt: “He’s trying to get their votes,” said Sullivan, of Washington, Pa. “He’s lying to them.”
Instead of false promises, Sullivan told CNN, “What you need to say to coal miners is ‘We’re going to figure out a way to give you better, safer, healthier jobs.’”
The Donald will never tell coal miners that since blathering on about a resurgence of the coal industry is as easy to sell as snake oil when coal miners continue to wear their rose-colored glasses at campaign rallies.
Take ’em off, coal miners. Take ’em all off and throw them in the trash heap of Big Lies from The Donald.