The Trump administration is again looking to help out its coal baron backers by completing a rollback of President Barack Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan.
President Donald Trump and his EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, think loosening the restrictions on the amount of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels will somehow revive the steadily declining coal industry.
Here’s the thing they never seem to process: Power companies in the United States are already cutting carbon emissions on their own, and enacting long- standing plans to scale back their reliance on coal. It’s as much of an economic decision as it is an initiative to protect the environment from the looming catastrophe climate change will bring if not mitigated.
Trump, of course, does not believe in climate change or global warming or any other term that the scientific community uses in its overwhelming consensus that the earth is heating up, which is already contributing to more frequent and fierce flooding, stronger tropical storms and devastating wildfires, and will eventually become a multi-billion dollar crisis.
Energy companies seem to be heeding the warnings to some degree, whether the president will acknowledge them or not. The lone holdouts are those like the coal barons trying to wring the last pennies out of their operations, future generations be damned.
Rolling back environmental regulations will only bring more harm to West Virginians and the rest of the country in the form of more pollution. It’s unlikely to boost coal’s bottom line, even in the short-term. It’s a narrow-view, shortsighted cash grab, which again shows insight into the Trump administration’s alarming logic on the issue: Allowing more pollution will provide Trump’s wealthy friends with more wealth, and that’s what really matters.
There’s no doubt coal still bears relevance to the West Virginia economy. But those days are coming to an end, no matter how many restrictions are revoked. The main consumers started shifting gears years ago and the resource itself is not as plentiful here as it used to be.
If the Trump administration really wants to make a difference in the lives of West Virginians and other coal states, it should turn its focus to fighting black lung — the fatal condition is back at an alarming 25-year high among miners — and making sure workers can get the health care they need. That takes actual work, though. It’s much easier to satisfy the coal bosses with the backward logic that more pollution equals higher production.