In the earliest days of the Trump administration, coal baron
After sending his lavish gift, Murray hand-delivered a policy agenda to the administration to deregulate the coal industry, which the
And Murray? He has filed for bankruptcy. The death of coal is inevitable, and no amount of crony capitalism can save it.
There are simply cheaper -- and safer -- alternatives. A new coal-fired facility will generate electricity at a cost of between
Far from a noble failure, Trump's failed attempt to bring back coal has racked up a terrible human cost.
Of course, burning coal also generates greenhouse gases -- just when the world scientific community is warning of the need to reduce these emissions rapidly.
The truth is, the Trump administration's blank checks for the coal industry are nothing short of a declaration of war against public health -- and the future of the planet -- all to benefit a few coal oligarchs.
Trump claims his agenda benefits coal workers, whom he loves to use as props. But their inflation-adjusted wages have actually decreased over Trump's term in office. Meanwhile, black lung -- a debilitating and fatal illness -- is on the rise.
Coal country is suffering. When miners are sick, struggling or unemployed, their reduced spending hurts local businesses. When local tax revenues fall, the jobs of schoolteachers and other public servants are threatened.
Resurrecting coal is the wrong way to address this suffering. It exacerbates pollution and literally kills people. And it's doomed to fail, leaving coal country with nothing but a broken landscape, a public health crisis and poverty.
What coal country needs is a just transition from a corporate-controlled extractive economy to a community-controlled regenerative economy, something organizations on the ground already are working on.
An inspiring example is an initiative by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a grassroots organization in
Another promising job creator? Environmental restoration.
Much of Appalachia, for example, has been scarred by mountaintop removal, a destructive coal mining method linked to cardiovascular disease, birth defects and cancer, not to mention polluted rivers and headless mountains. Many good jobs could be created to restore these landscapes under a Green New Deal.
It's time to reject the false, harmful promise of "bringing back coal." There's so much important work to be done restoring rivers, forests and communities to health and vitality. That's the work that deserves federal support -- not old coal barons trying to make their last buck.
One way or another, the coal industry will abandon coal country eventually. The question is what's left behind. With a little planning now, we can replace it with a community-driven, bottom-up Green New Deal -- with justice at its core.
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