Will Trump Be Able To Keep His Promises To The US Coal Miners?

During Donald Trumps’ campaign for the presidency, he held rallies with miners in the hard hats to emphasize the 8-years of neglect under the Obama administration. Perhaps, this strategy paid off, because Trump won in Pennsylvania and Ohio. However, with the elections over and the reality that Trump is now the US president, coal may prove to be a different kind of symbol.

Coal will symbolize the challenges and struggles of the president-elect to deliver his promises during the campaign particularly the restoration of the struggling sector of the US economy. For decades, the coal industry and well as the jobs that support the industry are in serious decline because of automation in mining, environmental concerns and slowdown of manufacturing industries that use coal for power.

On the other hand, no matter who won the presidential elections, coal remains to be at the mercy of market economics. The closest competitor of coal is natural gas which is cleaner, cheaper and more environmentally safe. With the possibility of easing restrictions on pipe building, gas exploration and production, more natural gas will reach the market.

The prices of coal have drifted downwards for years in spite of recent increases and so with natural gas prices that have fallen more sharply. According to Ted O’Brien of Doyle Trading Consultants, the Trump presidency won’t have a material impact in bringing miners back to work. Regulatory overhang may be eliminated but there is no surge in demand for coal.

The demand for coal has declined before Obama’s presidency because the collapse of the American steel industry in the 20th century has dramatically reduced the demand for metallurgical coal that is being mined in the Appalachia. In early 2008, coal was the source of roughly half of the electricity that is generated in the US; now it is down to only 30%.

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