Trump's promises will be hard to keep, but coal country has faith

In his postelection message to the nation, Mr. Trump promised to create “many millions of high-paying jobs” in energy, including coal. But utility companies have drastically reduced their reliance on coal, in part because of President Obama’s aggressive regulations to cut emissions that cause global warming, but also because natural gas is cheaper. Nationally, about 300 coal-fired power plants have closed since 2008, according to the National Mining Association, an industry group.

So even if Mr. Trump undoes Mr. Obama’s policies, many of those plants — including one in nearby Louisa, Ky., where a giant cooling tower was recently demolished after the plant converted from coal to natural gas — are not coming back. Analysts agree that what Appalachia really needs is a diversified economy, a goal that has eluded Mr. Obama and state and local politicians.

But in this land of staggering beauty and economic pain, Trump backers said over and over again that while coal might never be what it once was, the businessman they helped send to the White House could indeed put them back to work — if not in mining, then in some other industry…

People in Appalachia are tired: tired of seeing their loved ones, and especially their children, leave for work in other states; tired of being viewed as ignorant hillbillies by well-to-do urbanites who do not recognize that when a family has been somewhere for generations, it is not so easy to pack up and leave; tired of feeling tired.