Friday, August 12, 2016

Trump still offers no details on help for coal; leading coal backer says 'He needs to be tempered'

Trump was in Abingdon, Va., Wednesday. (AP photo)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump keeps saying he will reverse President Obama's policies and put coal miners back to work, but he has yet to say how he would that, and one of his main supporters says Obama has done so much damage to the industry that most jobs won't come back.

"He will help the coal industry all he can," coal operator Robert Murray told West Virginia MetroNews "Talkline" host Hoppy Kercheval. "But I think he actually has to be tempered because I don’t think he can do all for coal that he says he wants to do, like bring all the miners back. It will never happen. The Obama administration has destroyed the markets for the coal industry to the extent that it can’t come back to where it was. But the destruction can be stopped." Murray's remarks, which included a charge that federal mine inspectors are harassing his companies, were reported by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Trump was in Southwest Virginia on Wednesday to meet with coal miners and executives and speak to a rally. "Trump’s intimate discussion with miners at an industrial garage was a rare departure from the massive rallies and speeches that have characterized his campaign," reports Andrew Cain of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "He returned to the rally setting shortly after in nearby Abingdon and lamented that coal workers don’t vote in larger numbers."

"He mostly did a good imitation of Casey at the bat — he struck out," The Roanoke Times said in an editorial. "Trump could have elaborated on his Detroit speech and explained how his economic program would result in increased use of coal. He did not. Instead, he merely repeated the same bromides he’s said all along: 'We’re going to put the miners back to work.' Great. How? Trump never said."

"His is a campaign based on faith, not facts," the newspaper said. "Here are some inconvenient facts that will make it difficult for even a pro-coal president to revive the coal industry: Global coal consumption is declining. It fell last year by 1.8 percent — the largest decline since the mid-1960s, when such data started being collected. One of the reasons that the Bristol-based Alpha Natural Resources had to declare bankruptcy was that it was banking on China being a big growth market for coal exports. China is, after all, the world’s biggest consumer of coal. But even China has cut its coal imports by 30 percent."

Trump "also said some things that were simply, well, strange," the editorial went on:
“Clean coal,” he started to say at one point. Was he going to talk about how his administration would invest in research to develop “clean coal” — the idea that carbon can be captured from the emissions and put to other uses rather than burned off into the atmosphere? There is such research going on – some of it taking place in the Virginia coalfields, led by Virginia Tech researchers. Instead, Trump never completed the thought: “You look at China, the amount of energy they’re using coal for. They’re not cleaning it. Believe me. … We have a very small planet compared to the rest of the universe.” That sounds like something an environmentalist might say. What point was Trump trying to make? Does he think clean technology is worth investing in? Does he think clean coal is a fiction and we should burn coal anyway? We still don’t know. If he believes the former, this was once again a missed opportunity. Which candidate has actually called for increasing federal funding into clean coal research? Umm, Clinton. . . . The global economy is a complicated thing — in which some foreign companies provide American jobs, and some American jobs are dependent on the health of economies overseas. Trump gave no indication in Abingdon that he understands that.

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