Coal, a Campaign Promise Unfulfilled

President Trump still touts coal and its return, but what’s happening in the real world suggests coal is on its way out for good.

1 minute read

February 22, 2019, 8:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Coal Mining

U.S. Department of the Interior / Bureau of Land Management

The revival of coal was a central part of President Trump’s campaign platform, but it is just not going to happen, says Jonathan Chait. "Trump’s idea was that, by allowing coal companies to emit more pollutants into the atmosphere, he would lower their operating costs enough that they could stay in business or, ideally, expand their market share."

Instead, the cost of wind and solar has dropped quickly and significantly, meaning coal cannot compete. In addition, coal plants are closing, the number of coal jobs has evened out, and projections show that production will continue to decline for the next 30 years until it is largely nonexistent.

Trump did not mention coal during the State of Union address earlier this month. He also seems to be grasping for straws generally. While he tweeted recently imploring the Tennessee Valley Authority not to close coal plants, the TVA board of directors voted to shut down two coal-fired power plants, saying the numbers do not pencil out. "People aren’t willing to pay higher electric bills for the privilege of dirtier air," notes Chait.

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