Businesses are partnering with non-profits to bring clean energy jobs to devastated coal communities
When he announced that he would scrap Obama’s Clean Power Plan, President Trump triumphantly predicted the revitalisation of the coal industry. "Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry," he said of the plan, which set the first-ever national standards limiting carbon emissions from power plants. "We are bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making Americans wealthy again.”
But despite Trump’s promises, the past is not likely to repeat itself. Environmental regulation has indeed hurt the coal industry, but its nemesis has been the surge in natural gas production: since 2003, gas has supplanted coal as the major energy source, from half to nearly two thirds of the total. In addition, the cost to install solar has decreased some 60% in the past 10 years, while the price of installing wind turbines went down 27% from 2010 to 2015.
And although a few metallurgical coal mines, used to make steel, are slated to open, they will only create a few hundred more jobs. As Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies, pointed out in an editorial in the Washington Post this spring,coal industry employment has fallen from 220,000...