The Revival of Coal industry by Trump Administration
|🚸 Public Policy, Air Pollution, Democracy, Donald Trump
Table of Contents
In the 21st century, there is a general sensitization by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for all countries to strive towards the use of clean energy in line with the global climate change negotiations held in Paris in December 2015 (Chang 3). This global campaign was initiated to reduce the environmental health risks and other complicated issues that are associated with the production of fossil fuels such as coal. In most powerful economies such as China and Russia, electricity harnessed from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy are expected to fully replace unclean energy produced from fossil fuels as the major sources of electricity production. In the United States, the campaign to put clean and environmentally friendly sources of energy into use has been the top priority for the previous government. As a matter of fact, during the Obama administration, the department of interior affairs sensitized on climatic change and suspended all coal leases on land owned by the state for environmental reasons (Chang 19). But on the contrary, President Donald Trump promised to revive the coal mining industry in the United States by expanding coal production while, at the same time, compromising Washington’s commitments towards carbon regulation and climatic change. By reviving the production of coal, the Trump administration was pushing for the climatic injustice that would put the general environment and the lives of citizens of the United States at a health risk (Houser, Bordoff, &Marsters 33).
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Seven years ago, the coal mining industry in the United States of America was thriving with its demand recovering from the recession. By the close of 2015, the industry was completely thwarted, compelling many coal companies in Central Appalachia Kentucky and West Virginia to file for bankruptcy leading more than 100, 000 job losses in the mining industry, an experience that was completely dramatic (Lipton, “New York Times”). During the presidential campaigns for the election that was held at the beginning of 2017, President Donald Trump promised to end what he termed as a “draconian war on coal” administered by his predecessor President Barrack Obama. Chang states that “Trump called global warming a “hoax” and a “con” numerous times, and “a concept created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” (10). Before Trump’s inauguration, he promised that he would bring back coal jobs by rekindling the mining lease moratorium of coal, the excessive states stream rule, and to review of all anti-coal policies and regulations enforced by the Obama administration (Tapara, “Pri”). On his argument, Trump argued that the move would make America great again by making citizens realize that the dependence of America on coal production was the only way to make the United States of America would livable once again (Glicksman 12).
On the other hand, the president argued that the revival of the coal mining industry would provide more jobs to the mining communities that were growing poorer due to government regulation. During a press conference in Washington, Trump argued that the revival of coal mining and production will bring back employment to the industry by scrapping off Obama administration environmental regulations. In Trump’s defense, the Interior Department sensitized that “There is a consequence of not using some of our public land for the creation of wealth and jobs.” (Lipton, “New York Times”). On the contrary, a majority of conservationists and Democrats opposed the revival of coal production in the United States of America terming it as an environmental hazard while others headed to courtrooms to stop the revival exercise. According to these critics, coal was killing workers in several countries including the United States (Chen, “The Nation”). Worst of all was the extinguishing of lives by a fossil fuels-a serious epidemic that caused harm in many countries. Douglas and Anne also illustrate that “The coal industry provides employment opportunities and income, but our results suggest that those opportunities come at the price of lower overall long-term income growth” (2). Other than America, the global death toll from environmental hazards and poor health caused by coal mining activities became alarming.
Background of Coal Mining
During the colonial times, a huge chunk of energy supplied in the United States of America was sourced from timber. Trees were cut in huge piles from households and industrial furnaces to pave the way for urbanization or farming activities. Due to the North American temperature climate, the quality of wood for fuel available was fantastic and full advantage was taken upon them (Jagannathan, Ashwin, & Marco 11). Due to the active cutting of trees, the overall American forest cover dropped by 25% and at 59% Midwest and Northeast (Chang 3). It was up to the beginning of the 19th century that the demand for more energy rose, compelling Americans to find more and alternative sources of energy. Commercial coal mining in America began in 1748 in Virginia and took off in mid-1800 after new sources of coal minerals were discovered, thereby mechanizing its mining industry. By 1850, energy from coal was accounting for 9% of total energy supply from the United States and its market share grew to 41% by 1880 (Jagannathan, Ashwin, & Marco 12). By around 1920, more than 800,000 people were employed in the coal mining industry, and the number reduced drastically. At around the year 2000, the production and consumption of coal energy reduced to about 2%. This was attributed to the rising demand for clean sources of energy and the global campaign for countries to use clean sources of energy to curb climate change and global warming (Lipton, “New York Times”).
Controversies Surrounding Coal Mining in America
The coal mining industry in the United States has been on the decline for the last hundred decades until the Trump administration decided to revive it. One of the campaign promises that Trump is trying to deliver to the citizens of America was the revival of the coal mining industry in federal fields so as to bring back the jobs to the people of Central Appalachia Kentucky and Virginia that were once provided by this sector to out-do the climate change regulations adopted during the Obama-era (Lipton, “New York Times”). The controversies surrounding the mining of coal cuts between those who put many regards to the welfare of the American people with regards to income and those that mind about the health of the Americans. During the Obama-era, much emphasis was put towards environmental pollution and climatic change while the Trump administration is focused on empowering coal miners economically by providing more jobs to them and putting the federal land into significant utility.
Impact of Coal Mining on American Citizens
It was Trump’s desire that the lost jobs and the diminished economic livelihood of coal miners were restored once again. Even though the desire to create more jobs would be the best reward that the government would bring to its citizens, it was important to consider all the dynamics involved in the creation of these jobs. In fact Even Houser, Bordoff, and Marsters sensitize that “President Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations will not materially improve economic conditions in America’s coal communities” (6). In this century, several jobs have been lost, and many citizens rendered poor due to mechanization and automation of many working processes. During the 18th century, the coal mining industry was a source of several employment opportunities due to little automation that was a characteristic of the industry (Houser, Bordoff, & Marsters 10). To date, it will be very difficult to employ the chunk of numbers that was a possibility in the past. According to a recent study made by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Columbia center on Sustainable Investment, automation was likely to replace 40 to 80 percent of workers of mines and the digging of deep mines in the Appalachians is more expensive than strip mining with the machines out West or blowing up mountaintops; handfuls of explosives experts are more likely to get jobs from any expansion than thousands of miners (Houser, Bordoff, &Marsters 52).Today, coal mining does not involve digging of earth’s crust like it used to be. These tasks are being carried out by very expensive machines that would deny coal miners the jobs that Trump boasts about. The most unfortunate fact is that the use of more energy sources such as wind, solar power and natural gas have taken up a larger market share of the total United States’ energy production (Houser, Bordoff, &Marsters 17). In his quest to save the coal industry, the Trump administration is going to face more hurdles due to the fact that he is unable to change these trend and dynamics in the modern use of energy.
On the other note, the use of clean energy has become an essential part of safeguarding the environment and the human health in general. The use of clean energy can also be connected to economic development and a clean environment due to reduced carbon emissions. In fact, Jagannathan, Ashwin, and Marco illustrate by stating that “excessive carbon emissions should be of concern to society because of its contribution to global warming. Climate change can threaten human health, well-being, and economic productivity, as well as the world’s biodiversity and natural ecosystems” (5). As the amount of carbon emission remains flat globally, the economy of the world continues to grow steadily. Therefore, by exposing the United States of America to more carbon emission by the revival of coal mining, the American economy would be exposed to more jeopardy. Jagannathan, Ashwin and Marco expound on this by stating that the fossil fuel industry demands more subsidies from its government as compared to clean energy. Jagannathan, Ashwin and Marco further illustrate that according to the IEA survey, in 2014, energy from fossil fuels received subsidies worth $490 billion compared to subsidies allocated to clean energy which was worth $112 billion (22).
Lastly, coal mining is ranked amongst one of the most lethal jobs in the United States of America. The exposure of miners to methane gas and the possibility of explosions in the mines makes the activity very dangerous. According to Douglas and Anne, fifty out of every a hundred thousand workers die or suffer a very serious injury while on the line of duty (23). For centuries, the International Labor Organization has been advocating for the safety and health of workers in global minefields. This body has been advocating for the immediate saving of lives and provision of favorable working conditions at the minefields such as non-exposure to carbon and its pollution effects. Therefore, the introduction of coal mining into the United States of America will continue to expose more citizens to carbon another fatal gases, a move that will continue to bring more collateral damage to workers as a result of America’s concentration on carbon-based energy (Houser, Bordoff, &Marsters 21).
The Trump administration seeks to create more employment opportunities in the energy sector and add more power to the American national power grid. A study published by Energy Economics states the miners could easily be retrained for jobs in the solar energy industry at an affordable price (Jagannathan, Ashwin, & Marco 31). Unlike the coal industry, the solar industry is experiencing their employment growth about 12 times that of the whole economy. Estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 24 percent increase by 2022 in solar energy, allowing many job opportunities in the industry. Unlike the industries in the wind and hydroelectric, solar is not geographically limited (Lipton, “New York Times”). It would, therefore, be advisable for the Trump administration to abandon coal energy mining to reduce carbon emission in the environment and rather concentrate on clean energy, which can also create more jobs and add more power to the American national grid. Otherwise, the decision by Donald Trump’s government would be doing more harm than good. This would mean that whether the hazardous production of coal or the negative health effects of pollution, the American death toll, as a result of coal mining, does not matter to Donald Trump as much as profits from production and exportation of coal energy do. This is due to the fact that at the moment, air pollution is now the worst risk factor the environment and efforts to reduce it could tend to save more lives.
- Chang, Brian. “Does International Trade Law Permit a Multilateral Border Carbon Adjustment Scheme if the Trump Administration withdraws from the Paris Agreement?” (2017).
- Chen, Michelle. “Donald Trump’s Real Plan for Coal-Mine Workers.” The Nation. (February 10th 2017).
- Douglas, Stratford, and Anne Walker. “Coal mining and the resource curse in the eastern United States.” Journal of Regional Science 57.4 (2017): 568-590.
- Glicksman, Robert L. “The Fate of the Clean Power Plan and US Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Trump Era.” (2017).
- Houser, Bordoff, and Marsters. “Can Coal make a comeback?” (April 2017).
- Jagannathan, Ravi, Ashwin Ravikumar, and Marco Sammon. “Environmental, Social, and Governance Criteria: Why Investors Should Care.” (2017).
- Lipton, Erick. “Under Trump, Coal Mining Gets New Life on U.S. Lands.” The New York Times. (August 6th 2017).
- Tapara, Evan. “President Trump, with new coal jobs on the horizon, what will you do to keep miners safe?” Pri. (April 5th 2017).