October 25, 2019

The Trump administration’s futile efforts to prop up the declining U.S. coal industry

James M. Van Nostrand

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised “to bring the coal jobs back” in a speech in Charleston, West Virginia—a commitment he would repeat during the remainder of his campaign. Since taking office, President Trump has pressed the Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, to develop a strategy for providing financial assistance for the coal industry. These efforts have proven to be unsuccessful, and that outcome is unlikely to be any different in the future. The market forces and contributing factors aligned against the coal industry are simply too strong to surmount with government policies and subsidies. Moreover, the impact of environmental regulations on the demise of the coal industry was exaggerated, so their rollback is not having the hoped-for effect of reviving the domestic coal industry.

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