Coal Country Bought Trump’s Promise, but the 19th Century is Not Coming Back

January 9, 2017

Above, desperate coal country folk bought Huckster Donald Trump’s promise of a revival of 19th century technology. Now wondering if they were swindled.
And oops, Black Lung benefits tied to Obamacare.

Below, coal Baron Robert Murray agrees that coal jobs won’t come back, but shows perhaps where the coal country delusions come from.  Even the Fox News host here has trouble following the crazy, as Mr Murray makes wildly incorrect claims about energy prices.

See most recent energy prices here.  Note, Murray above refers to price per Kilowatt hour, prices  below are per Megawatt hour, so 20 cents/kwh would be 200 dollars/mwh. Click to expand.



And yet here is Trump, by his promises at least, insisting that coal mining is going to come back with all those glorious jobs. It just isn’t I’m afraid, economics is stronger than politics here. I’ve made this point before, back in May in fact:

The third reason is the killer: economics. Fracking has made natural gas cheaper than coal for power generation. Thus new generations of power plants are going to be gas ones, not coal. And refurbs and life extensions of coal plants aren’t going to happen for the same reason. There’s just not going to be anything like the same market for thermal coal in the future.

We’re not going to use as much coal in the future and the coal that we will use isn’t going to come from the Appalachian mines. Trump simply isn’t going to bring back all those mining jobs. They’re gone, gone forever. Just like those assembly line jobs in electronics. And pining for the lost blue collar jobs isn’t going to help in the slightest. The thing to do now is to work out what other task that same labor can do.


Donald Trump’s election has thrown an apparent lifeline to beleaguered coal producers but he may not be able to do much to revive the fortunes of the industry.

The U.S. coal industry has been a victim of the shale revolution and the enormous quantities of cheap gas that have been unleashed by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

There is not much a future Trump administration can do to protect coal producers, who have mostly been the victim of economic forces rather than politics and the Obama administration’s “war on coal”.


9 Responses to “Coal Country Bought Trump’s Promise, but the 19th Century is Not Coming Back”

  1. rsmurf Says:

    Yep the lies flow easily from this one. The reality is that NAT GAS took all his business!

  2. Lionel Smith Says:

    Climate systems care nothing for ‘politically correct things’ whatever they are.

    How much is health care subsidising coal externalities from pollution? I suspect coal power would not be so cheap if all that, and more, were factored in. Just thinking about the coal trains described by Jeff Goodall in ‘Big Coal’ is enough to appreciate that power from coal is madness.

    Plus, I suspect, most of those coal plants closed that Murray is whining about were too old and dirty to be greenwashed.

    Lamar Smith’s obsequiousness towards Bob Murray in a video seen here over the last year was nauseating in the extreme, but that is Lamar Smith’s way.

  3. Earl Mardle Says:

    So, what happens when the companies doing the fracking collapse because the price of the oil they are aiming for doesn’t support the cost of its production and, as a byproduct the gas goes away?

    • Tom Bates Says:

      The price of oil and gas has collapsed from the OPEC flooding of the market with oil. The price of oil and gas is entirely artificial, it is not demand or supply driven. If we kick the Saudi oil out we can simply set out own price for oil and gas in the domestic market, something the 5 sisters already do around the OPEC floor.

  4. Tom Bates Says:

    People in the suburbs were the major voters for Trump. the Coal country people are a tiny percentage of the voters. You use the term desperate and you are correct. Hillary and the Democrats gave these people the finger just like the Brits gave the finger to the starving Irish back in the potato famine years. Trump said he will work to bring the jobs back, if not those jobs he will bring back other jobs as unlike your comments and Hillary’s, he thinks those people are not despicable folks to be ignored and talked down to like this column.

    • Glenn Martin Says:

      Trump promised what “played well”. All he’s interested in is helping his investments and lowering inheritance taxes for his kids. After that , he doesn’t care about presidential duties.

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    People in coal states exert an influence way beyond their numbers in politics, from Congress to the Electoral College. In both of those places, people in Wyoming, for example, have more than 3 1/2 times the representation and power of Californians. Added up across the country, that means coal gets consideration we should have abandoned along with this unfair representation decades ago. With mercury in everything and every body, all the other heavy metals and air and water pollution, acid rain, smog, the economic and thus political inequality coal causes, and above all climate catastrophe, coal states have been waging a war on the rest of us–on all of us, really–for more than a century.

    The fact that people in coal and other red states have bought into right wing propaganda for at least that long should be motivation for us to fight inequality and help them improve their education and mental health care, rather than scapegoat them, but of course, lots of people are doing dumb things because they’ve attributed our problems to the wrong reasons and blamed the wrong people.

  6. Maybe not 19th century here, but if we let major polluters like PRC or Russia have the coal market, wont they pollute more?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: