Donald Trump and coal

From Global Energy Monitor

On November 8 Donald Trump became President-elect of the United States vowing to revive the declining US coal industry.

Donald Trump on coal during the Republican primaries and election campaign

  • March 1, 2016: “Obama has decimated the coal industry, decimated it, and we’re going to bring the coal industry back folks. We're going to bring it back,” Trump told a rally in Louisville, Kentucky on March 1, 2016.[1]
  • May 6, 2016: On May 5, 2016 Trump spoke at a rally in West Virginia during which he donned a hard hat and referred to the loss of US jobs including in the coal industry. "For those miners, get ready because you're going to be working your asses off," [2]

Donald Trump Tweets on coal

Donald Trump's energy and coal policies

  • May 26, 2016: On May 26 in a speech in North Dakota Trump extolled his "America First Energy Plan" and complained that "President Obama has done everything he can to kill the coal industry" and had issued "regulations that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and block the construction of new ones; a prohibition against coal production on federal land"; and "draconian climate rules that, unless stopped, would effectively bypass Congress to impose job-killing cap-and-trade."[3]
He vowed:

"We will get the bureaucracy out of the way of innovation, so we can pursue all forms of energy. This includes renewable energies and the technologies of the future. It includes nuclear, wind and solar energy – but not to the exclusion of other energy. The government should not pick winners and losers. Instead, it should remove obstacles to exploration. Any market has ups and downs, but lifting these draconian barriers will ensure that we are no longer at the mercy of global markets."

As part of his "100-day action plan" Trump proclaimed:

  • "We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
  • We’re going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
  • I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
  • We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas
  • We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
  • We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
  • Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. We will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.
  • Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved."
Trump also vowed "policy decisions will be public and transparent."
"In a Trump Administration, political activists with extreme agendas will no longer write the rules. Instead, we will work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature. From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water."
In the speech Trump stated:
"The Obama-Clinton Administration has blocked and destroyed millions of jobs through their anti-energy regulations, while raising the price of electricity for both families and businesses. As a result of recent Obama EPA actions coal-fired power plants across Michigan have either shut down entirely or undergone expensive conversions. The Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs. Hillary Clinton says her plan will 'put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.' We will put our coal miners and steel workers back to work."

Donald Trump's coal industry supporters

  • May 5, 2016: In early May 2016 the West Virginia Coal Association announced it had decided to endorse Donald Trump for the office of president of the United States. "We believe that with the leadership team of Donald Trump in the White House and Bill Cole as Governor, West Virginia will begin to rebuild what we have lost to the Obama War on Coal and also look to the future once again with confidence,” the group stated.[5]
  • May 23, 2016: In late May 2016 the CEO of Murray Energy, Robert Murray, told a coal industry conference he had met Trump the week before at the request of the Presidential aspirant to discuss energy policy. Murray disclosed little of what was said at the meeting but described Trump as "all we [the coal industry] got" and that he was "the horse to ride." Murray also recounted he suggested one thing Trump could do as President would be to help increase Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports in order to reduce the domestic gas glut. (Coal power's largest competitor is gas, with low prices rapidly undercutting coal's share of the power generation market. Murray said Trump liked the idea but then asked "What's LNG?"[6]
  • June 28, 2016: On June 28 Murray hosted a personal invitation-only fundraising dinner for Trump at the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia[7] with 1200 people reported to be attending.[8]

Post-election comments by Donald Trump on coal and energy policies

  • November 21, 2016: "On energy, I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy – including shale energy and clean coal – creating many millions of high-paying jobs. That's what we want, that's what we've been waiting for," Trump stated in a video update on his Presidential transition.[9]

Post election comments of coal industry lobby groups and companies

  • November 9, 2016: Following the West Virginia Coal Association's President Bill Raney proclaimed the election outcome "more than West Virginia’s coal industry could have hoped for. Not only will Congress stay in the leadership hands of those who understand coal’s importance to the American economy, but we finally will have a chief executive who hears us and cares about us in West Virginia.”[10]
However, the WVCA's media release cautioned "coal production in West Virginia likely will not return to the record productions levels prior to the 2008" but held out hope the "industry outlook shows signs of improving."[10]
  • November 9, 2016: The CEO of the privately-owned Murray Energy Corporation, Robert Murray, told SNL the day after the election he was drafting some notes for Trump on the "first steps" he should take as President. While Murray declined to disclose the details of his note to Trump he said "the first steps are that he's got to deal with the bloated, overgrown bureaucracy in Washington ... He's got to cut the U.S. EPA staffing to half. The same for the Department of Labor, the same for Interior, the same for the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration." He also stated the U.S. Department of Energy should be abolished, the Stream Buffer Zone rule axed and the US withdraw from the Paris climate change accord.[11]
Even so, Murray conceded "coal will never come back to where it was" when it fuelled over half the country's electrical generation but could hold a 30% share instead of falling to the 18% share envisaged if the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan is implemented.
  • November 9, 2016: The National Mining Association, the peak US mining industry lobby group, issued a media statement the day after the elction stating it "looks forward to working with the Trump administration and the 115th Congress" including on "policies that favor all domestic energy sources" and globally on the "commercial deployment of advanced energy technologies powered by public and private investment."[12]
  • November 9, 2016: The President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), Mike Duncan, stated it looked forward "to working with President-elect Donald Trump" and the "opportunity to turn away from the costly regulations that have hamstrung our nation’s electric generating capabilities and limited our access to affordable and reliable power."[13] ACCCE is a coal industry lobby group representing companies including Peabody Energy, American Electric Power and Drummond.[14]
  • November 19, 2016: “Any exuberance has to be tempered ... The view should be cautious optimism,” said Richard Reavey, vice president for government and public affairs at Cloud Peak Energy told the New York Times.[15]

Post-election comments of US coal industry unions on the prospects for the coal industry under Trump

  • "If we are importing the [metallurgical] coal or importing steel made with foreign coal, then it won't make any difference for American miners," Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, told Reuters.[16]

Post election comments of energy industry analysts on the prospects for the US coal industry under Trump

  • "I don’t think the Trump presidency will have a material impact on bringing coal miners back to work ... He may eliminate the regulatory overhang but I have a hard time seeing a surge in coal demand, Ted O’Brien, a coal analyst at Doyle Trading Consultants, told the New York Times.[15] "There is optimism that with government support, coal is more viable ... But the same headwinds still exist that have existed over the past five years.”
  • "It's one [Trump's election] of the things I suppose could be seen as positive for the [coal] industry, but we don't see it as a major factor simply because we continue to believe the coal industry is pressured by more economic factors like low natural gas prices and global environment that puts coal at a disadvantage," Anna Zubets-Anderson, a senior analyst and vice president at Moody's Investors Service. "I think over the long term we're looking at a gradual transition to clean energy sources ... I think that's going to remain to be a long-term trend. It's possible the administration may do something to slow it down," she said.[17]
  • "The cliff they faced has turned more into a glide path ... I don't think that most of the environmental regulation that has been achieved so far in the country, I don't think those are going to get undone, much or if at all by the Trump administration. New regulation will certainly be slower. But eventually, that will continue in a post-Trump environment," said Andy Roberts, research director for global thermal coal markets at the coal and energy industry consultancy Wood Mackenzie.[17] Roberts said that "to the extent he helps gas, he's not helping coal."
"He can help coal ... Can he turn back the clock to a time when coal employed 80,000 or more people? No, he can not do that. It can't be done," Roberts told SNL.[17]

Comments by environmental and other community groups on the prospects for the US coal industry under Trump

Other notable comments

  • December 2015: In late 2015 with bi-partisan support Congress extended the investment tax credit on solar and wind power developments. "Under the new scheme, the 30 percent solar tax credit will extend through 2019 and then decline gradually to 10 percent in 2022. After 2022 the credit will be eliminated for residential solar installations and will continue at 10 percent for commercial ones. Overall, the move by Congress will add an extra 20 gigawatts of solar power over the next five years, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance—more than the total installed in history up to the end of last year." The tax credit on wind power developments applies to projects commissioned from the start of 2015 and will gradually decline until expiring in 2020.[18]
  • August 2016: Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, vowed that he would strenuously oppose any moves by Trump to remove the wind tax credit. “If he wants to do away with it, he’ll have to get a bill through Congress, and he’ll do it over my dead body,” Grassley said.[19]

Articles and resources


  1. Matthew Rand, "Trump promises to bring back coal during Louisville rally",, March 1, 2016.
  2. "Trump receives warm welcome in coal country", Washington Post, May 6, 2016.
  3. Donald Trump, "An America First Energy Plan", Trump/Pence website, May 26, 2016.
  4. Donald Trump, "An America First Economic Plan: Winning The Global Competition", Trump/Pence campaign website, August 8, 2016.
  5. West Virginia Coal Association, "West Virginia Coal Association Endorses Trump for President", Media Release, May 5, 2016.
  6. Taylor Kuykendall, "Murray Energy CEO says he has met with Trump and he is 'the horse to ride'", SNL, May 23, 2016.
  7. "Trump Heading to West Virginia for Fundraiser with Coal Exec", June 21, 2016.
  8. Will Drabold, "Donald Trump Heads for Coal Industry Fundraiser in West Virginia", Time, June 27, 2016.
  9. Paul Bedard, "Trump announces plan to kill regulations, spark coal production", Washington Examiner, November 21, 2016.
  10. 10.0 10.1 West Virginia Coal Association, "WV Coal Association Eager for Trump Administration to Stop Obama’s War on Coal", Media Release, November 9, 2016.
  11. Taylor Kuykendall, "Coal CEO Bob Murray expects major cuts to agencies, rules with Trump win", SNL, November 10, 2016.
  12. National Mining Association, "For NMA, a New Administration and a New Congress Means a New Beginning", Media Release, November 9, 2016.
  13. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, "ACCCE Statement on President-Elect Trump’s Victory", Media Release, November 9, 2016.
  14. American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, "Members", American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity website, accessed November 2016.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Clifford Krauss and Michael Corkery, "A Bleak Outlook for Trump’s Promises to Coal Miners", New York Times, November 19, 2016.
  16. Timothy Gardner, "Can Trump make coal great again? At least some companies think so", Reuters, November 18, 2016.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Taylor Kuykendall, "From a 'cliff' to a 'glide path,' analysts see Trump benefit to coal limited", SNL, November 15, 2016.
  18. Richard Martin, "Tax Credit Extension Gives Solar Industry a New Boom", MIT Technology Review, December 28, 2015.
  19. Peter Fairley, "Trump’s Impact on Clean-Energy Businesses", MIT Technology Review, November 14, 2016.

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