For the countless communities that dot rural America, Donald Trump is something of an economic savior. For small towns where coal is the economic driving force, the Obama presidency has been devastating. Mines closed, workers laid off, and economic downturn were becoming commonplace. Then, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in one of the biggest upsets in American political history. He signed executive orders rolling back the regulations that have been crippling businesses, especially those involved with the mining of coal. Now, miners in Hazard, Kentucky can get back to work to support their families (via Fox News):
“I love mining coal,” Carlos Sturdill said 250 feet underground in the E4-1 mine in Hazard. That mine shut down in the Obama years. There are many factors that allowed the mine to re-open and people like Sturdill to get back to work.
For starters, the entire economy has seen a bump. That has created a demand for steel. The high-quality coal that comes out of Appalachia is well suited for making steel.
“I’m glad to be working. I’m thankful I’ve got a job again,” Sturdill said. Then you have President Trump who started rolling back regulations early in his time on the job. One of Trump’s early executive orders was to roll back the Stream Protection Rule. The SPR was created in the 11th hour of the Obama presidency and it would have placed a burden on coal companies to test streams before during and after mining. Trump followed up by undoing the 2015 Waters of the US rule, which broadened the definition of a body of water.
According to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the rule “allowed the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to assert Federal authority over an untold number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches, short-lived streams and any other area where water may flow every 100 years.”
That does not mean hard times are over for those people dependent on a coal mining paycheck. During the Obama administration, figures obtained by Fox News show that 36,800 coal miners lost their jobs. Last September, the number of people mining coal hit the lowest point since 1985.
Since Trump took office, 300 miners have been re-hired.
Ninety of the new hires are at the E4-1 mine in Hazard. But that was after the mine was hit by a series of layoffs since 2012 that left 460 workers out of a job.
The mining industry won’t return to his former strength, with some putting the blame on the Obama White House’s war on coal over the past eight years. Yet, there is also something to be said about the changing forces within the energy market. More natural gas and oil exploration has hit the coal industry as well, though it’s hard to argue that the Obama regulations didn’t place a boot on the industry’s throat. Obama was winning the war on coal, which would have cost us a projected 125,800 jobs and $650 billion in lost GDP over the next decade. Thank God that didn't happen.