Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hedged on Friday about when and if Republicans would be able to bring coal mining jobs to Kentucky, saying that is a "private sector activity."
The issue has been a key campaign tool for Republicans who have accused President Obamaof waging a "war on coal." President-elect Trump promised during the campaign that he could save the coal industry in America.
"Obama has decimated the coal industry, and we're going to bring the coal industry back,” Trump said at a speech in Louisville in March. “The coal industry is going to make a very big comeback.”
But asked at a press conference at the University of Louisville if the GOP would be able to restore the industry that has shed jobs here and in other coal-mining states, McConnell demurred.
"I certainly would like to see the war on coal come to an end," he said in a 20-minute press conference. "As I've said repeatedly over the last few years, the war on coal was not a result of anything Congress passed, there was no legislation. This was all executive orders or regulations that the president was involved in, unilaterally, on his own."
The industry has been losing jobs for three decades and those losses accelerated under Obama, in part because of new environmental regulations, but more importantly, because of cheap natural gas prices.
In 1985, there were 173,000 coal mining jobs in the United States, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. In October of this year, that number had fallen to 53,000.
Eastern Kentucky has been especially hard hit because the easily obtained coal is gone and it costs much more to extract it from the ground there.
"We are going to be presenting to the president a variety of options that could end this assault," McConnell said. "Whether that immediately brings business back, that's hard to tell because this is a private sector activity."
Oh. Oh well then. The rest of King Coal's court didn't have much more to add either.
The interim president of the Kentucky Coal Association was more direct about the future of coal mining in Eastern Kentucky.
“I would not expect to see a lot of growth because of the Trump presidency,” Nick Carter said in an interview. “If there is any growth in Eastern Kentucky, it will be because of an improved economy for coal.”
Experts agree that environmental regulations placed on the coal industry contributed to a rapid decline of the coal industry over the past few years, but there have been other, more important economic factors at play.
“The issues, particularly in the eastern part of Kentucky, are more than the increase of regulations,” said Ken Troske, Sturgill Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky.
One of those issues is a decrease in demand for coal.
Carter said the low price of natural gas contributes to the lack of demand for coal. As the energy industry builds new power plants, it’s more likely to build plants that run on natural gas because the price isn’t as high.
“We don’t mind losing to natural gas because it’s the cheapest source,” Carter said.
Nat gas is good for the energy industry, but it's not going to bring back coal jobs.
That's because nothing will bring back coal jobs, and Kentucky made sure it elected people who will make sure those coal jobs will not only disappear for good, but that thos high-=paying union coal mining jobs won't be replaced by any jobs at all.
King Coal conned you, Kentucky. But keep blaming the black guy while you have President Trump and the Democrats are wiped out in the state and across the Midwest.