President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday eviscerating clean-air regulations adopted by the Obama administration, but his expectation that the pass on pollution will revive the coal industry is overly optimistic.
Monday, the CEO of the nation’s largest privately owned coal-mining company said that Trump and the industry needed to “temper expectations.” Robert Murray of Murray Energy, a longtime opponent of clean-air regulation, noted that coal’s decline is driven by market economics rather than by regulation.
In 2008, 52 percent of U.S. power generation was fueled by coal; now it’s 30 percent. Coal has been eclipsed by abundant and less expensive natural gas and renewables. Utilities are not going to reverse their long-term investments.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, has joined many House Republicans from coal states in sponsoring the RECLAIM Act. It would release $1 billion in abandoned mine land reclamation funds to accelerate development of such land.
The bill is one realistic way to help coal areas deal with the new reality of the energy markets. Congress should pass it.