Once again, a federal government report has shot a large hole in one of the many ridiculously untruthful narratives that have been spun by Donald Trump. This time it was the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which issued a report estimating coal consumption in 2018:
Americans are consuming less coal in 2018 than at any time since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, a federal report said Tuesday, as cheap natural gas and other rival sources of energy frustrate the Trump administration’s pledges to revive the U.S. coal industry.
A report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that 2018 would see the lowest U.S. coal consumption since 1979, as well as the second-greatest number on record of coal-fired power plants shutting down.
A former federal official summed up the report’s relevance to the many lies told by Donald Trump:
Trump “talks tough to the coal miners to get their support, but he doesn’t deliver for them, and I don’t think that he can, because the markets are bigger than him,” said Joe Pizarchik, who directed the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in the Obama administration.
Pizarchik, now a consultant on water quality and reforestation, said lower prices for natural gas and renewables will continue to drive down demand for coal, despite deregulation efforts by the Trump administration.
For most of the country, this is good news. Coal is a dirty source of energy that is contributing to climate change. For the unfortunate people in coal country who believed the lies of Donald Trump, this should serve as yet another wake up call. Coal is not coming back. That’s just reality. It is time to move on. It is time to stop believing the lies of Donald Trump.
Let’s examine those lies a bit further.
Donald Trump has been busy bragging to his supporters about how he has brought back coal, often mixing in his talk of a coal renaissance with his bragging about overall job growth, suggesting that a big part of job growth has been due to thousands upon thousands of newly employed coal miners who are streaming onto the job:
“Our economy is booming like never before. Remember, I told you. And by the way, your state is booming like never before. Poverty is plummeting, our stock market is soaring, reached its all-time high, by the way, in history, which I view as: jobs, jobs, jobs. All-time high. And our great coal miners are back to work. They’re back to work. A lot of people said that wasn’t going to happen, you’re back to work. Not only back to work, they’re opening up mines all over the place, we’re opening up steel mills. And the steel mills need metallurgic coal, and those coal miners are working and the steel workers are working, and our whole country is working.”
“But more Americans are working today than have ever worked before in our country. A great stat. That’s a big stat. Our coal miners are back to work.”
“Jobs are pouring back into the United States. We are putting your great Indiana coal miners and steelworkers back to work.”
The way Donald Trump tells it, one of the main drivers of job growth in America right now is the coal mining industry. As usual, though, Donald Trump’s reality is not actual reality.
All numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, link: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Since Donald Trump took office in January 2017, there have been 3.8 million new jobs created. Before we get into how many of those jobs are coal mining jobs, let’s first compare this job growth that has taken place in these first 20 months under Trump with the last 20 months under President Obama. In the last 20 months of Obama’s presidency, from May of 2015 to January of 2017, there were 4.2 million new jobs created.
So, almost a half million less new jobs have been created during Trump’s first 20 months in office than during Obama’s last 20 months in office. That is the first case of reality not equating with Trump’s ridiculous boasts.
Now, let’s look at coal mining jobs. Since January 2017, there have been just 1,900 new coal mining jobs created, out of 3.8 million new jobs. This is equal to 0.05% of all new jobs since Trump became President.
To put this more in perspective, we can compare new coal mining jobs with some industries Trump’s policies have had nothing to do with, like education; some industries Trump’s policies have been hurting, like tourism; and even some industries which Trump has been actively trying to slow job growth, like government jobs.
Since January 2017, while 1,900 new coal mining jobs have been created, 793,000 new education and health service jobs have been created.
Since January 2017, while 1,900 new coal mining jobs have been created, 53,000 new hotel industry jobs have been created.
Since January 2017, while 1,900 new coal mining jobs have been created, 33,000 new accounting jobs have been created.
And last, but not least:
Since January 2017, while 1,900 new coal mining jobs have been created, 93,000 new government jobs have been created.
The coal mining jobs are not coming back because coal consumption is decreasing, and nothing Donald Trump can do will stop that. It is, simply, time to move on from coal. Industries change in an economy. Jobs change in an economy. It is a natural byproduct of innovation. The United States used to have telegram operators and milkmen. Those industries went away due to innovation. The same thing is happening with coal. And, thankfully, the environment will be a better place for it.