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”.