Yesterday, after the Senate confirmed him as the next energy secretary, Dan Brouillette said that Trump told him to figure out a way to boost coal.
So basically, the president has instructed someone in his administration to intervene in energy markets – once again – to try to breathe life into something that is no longer economically relevant.
The flood of natural gas and rapid integration of renewable energy is putting coal out to pasture. This is not a criticism of coal, by the way, but instead just an observation of truth.
Coal is not economically viable in the new energy economy.
Certainly in other parts of the world, coal continues to maintain significant market share, but in the U.S., it simply can’t compete.
Looking to figure out a way to boost coal is like saying you want to figure out a way to boost interest in rotary phones and typewriters.
Of course, the timing on this is also pretty suspicious.
Trump is up for re-election next year, so it’s no surprise to see him make an effort to cater to voters in coal country again.
He did this three years ago, when he promised these folks that coal would be coming back.
Coal has continued to lose market share since Trump took office.
This is not the result of Trump not trying to deliver. It’s just the result of the market, which sees natural gas and renewables as more economically relevant than coal.
But this won’t stop Trump from trying to re-promise something he can’t deliver on without extreme government intervention. Which, if I remember correctly, is something Republicans are supposed to abhor.
Sarcasm aside, I really fell bad for these folks in coal country because they’re going to hear about how Trump is trying to save their jobs again, instead of being honest about the fact that the decline in coal jobs is one that will continue for many years to come.
It should be interesting to see how the Trump administration spins this in the coming months. But make no mistake: Coal is not coming back, those who work in the coal industry have no job security, and once the election is over, they’ll be abandoned once again, because politicians – both Republicans and Democrats – only suck up to them before an election.