While Tr*mp was entertaining us and distracting the media with his foolishness, the GOP got busy paying back the extraction industries (oil, gas and coal) who own them.*
While Tr*mp was entertaining us and distracting the media with his foolishness, the GOP got busy and began paying back the extraction industries (oil, gas and coal) who own them.*
Last week, House GOP revoked Obama regulation protecting streams from coal mining debris. That means the coal companies can return to blowing the tops off of mountains and dumping the “overburden” directly into the valleys. What they are dumping is not just dirt. It’s a toxic mess of contaminates including arsenic, cadmium and other poisonous heavy metals. It’s why streams run orange in Appalachia.
This entirely cynical move is made under cover of the War on Coal narrative concocted by the operatives of the coal industry and repeated over and over and over, the MO of special interests since the beginning of time. The War on Coal is a real as the War on Christmas.
As the fairy tale goes, Barack Obama “hates” coal (and coal miners) and has destroyed the industry along with billions of jobs. He has done this by over-reaching, GOP-speak for protecting citizens from the plundering industries. All the anti-pollution measures do is try and prevent coal companies from burying valleys and fouling public lands and waterways with cancer-causing chemicals. The way it has always worked is that the coal companies get the profits, while taxpayers pay for cleanup, should there actually be a cleanup.
McConnell, who is every bit Trump’s equal in creating an alternative reality, called the stream protection rule “an attack against coal miners and their families…the legislation we passed today will help stop this disastrous rule and bring relief to coal miners and their families.”
Except it won’t. Coal mining has been in a steep decline for far longer than Obama has been in office, but over-regulation ranks far down on the list as a cause.
Ironically, the overwhelming cause of decline in coal jobs is the free market. When fracking opened up new supplies of methane (what is called “natural gas”), public utilities began converting from dirtier and more expensive coal to natural gas. Compared to the amount of time they spent resisting environmental regulations, this transformation happened almost overnight. The demand for coal is in steep decline in China and elsewhere as well.
Another key cause of coal related employment is automation. Mountaintop removal technology, which has destroyed more than 700 mountains in Appalachia, has destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past three decades. Those jobs aren’t coming back.
(In fact, robotics are in the process of replacing jobs at all levels, especially in the heavy manufacturing section Tr*mp claims he is going to save. To accomplish this, he will need to do more than browbeat with Twitter. He will need a wand.)
The most overlooked cause of failure in the coal business is the coal companies themselves, which took on mountains of debt at the beginning of the twenty-first century as they anticipated a bonanza. When business slowed during the Bush financial depression, they were handcuffed in terms of their ability to react.
The four largest coal mining companies are now in bankruptcy.
*They also paid back the NRA by revoking a law that made it illegal for mentally unstable people to buy a gun. Now Tr*mp can have a gun.