President Trump did not mention his favorite “beautiful, clean” industry during the State of the Union, but coal boosters dismissed the idea they have been forgotten.
“It does not bother us at all,” said Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp. and perhaps coal’s most vociferous Trump champion.
Trump mentioned coal exactly once during each of his previous two annual addresses to Congress.
“We’re going to stop the regulations that threaten the future and livelihood of our great coal miners,” the president said during his 2017 speech.
A year later, in his first official State of the Union, Trump declared: “We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.”
Crediting his administration for slashing more regulations, the president bragged the nation was becoming a net exporter of energy (E&E Daily, Jan. 31, 2018).
This year, he again hailed an American energy “revolution” but omitted coal from a list of success stories alongside oil and natural gas.
Some saw it as a sign the White House is turning its back on an industry still struggling to compete.
“We are less concerned with words, more so with actions that create meaningful change, reverse the negative trends that began under the prior administration and advance our key priorities,” National Mining Association spokeswoman Ashley Burke said.
NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn credited Trump with rebalancing the federal government’s approach to regulation.
“That said, key actions remain to cut the red tape American industry continues to encounter, to safeguard affordable and reliable energy, and to encourage innovation that will benefit all Americans,” he said in a statement.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President and CEO Michelle Bloodworth said the White House has clearly demonstrated they believe coal plays a vital role in “ensuring a resilient and reliable electric grid.”
“Though the president did not bring up coal specifically in his remarks, he did address the work being undertaken by his administration to reduce many of the regulations that have led to the premature retirement of coal units,” she said.
With four-fifths of coal burned to generate electricity, coal-fired power plant retirements have led to massive reductions in coal mining.
Trump has thus far been unable to stem the recent tide of closures. Last year marked the second most retirements of any year.
But coal advocates still see regulations to slash.
“The president understands that at least 30 percent of the electric power generation mix in America must be from coal,” Murray said, “to maintain the reliability of the electric power grids and to keep electricity costs as low as possible.”
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- On February 7, 2019