Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trump's pro-coal policies don't include transition help for workers like Obama's anti-coal policy did

Coal towns suffering from changes in the energy market might get some help from President Trump's policies, but they are not going to get the transition help they were promised by then-President Obama, reports Nathan Rott of NPR.

Rott reports from Colstrip, Montana, where the two older units at the town's coal-fired electric plant (the second largest in the West) are being shut down in settlement of a lawsuit by environmental groups alleging that the plant "hadn't updated its technology to meet air quality requirements," Rott reports. "On top of that, the two biggest customers for Colstrip's power — Washington and Oregon — announced long-term commitments to get off coal."

Rex Rogers (NPR photo by Nathan Rott)
The units would have also been shut down under Obama's "Clean Power Plan," which Trump has scuttled. But the Obama plan also said it would "assist communities and workers that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America's energy sector," Rott notes.

Rex Rogers, business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at the plant, told Rott, "Even though we won the 'war on coal,' it doesn't appear that there was anything in that for the workers."

Rott reports, "Rogers' opinion of the Clean Power Plan is not widely shared in Colstrip. Most people in the town are happy to see it, and other Obama-era regulations on the coal industry, gone or on their way out.

"With Trump in there doing some of the things that he's doing to eliminate some of those needless regulations, I think it's going to make a positive impact here," Colstrip Mayor John Williams told Rott, who adds: "If nothing else, he says, it's nice to have a president who supports coal."

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