Since Trump’s inauguration, U.S. coal production—after a slight uptick in 2017—is expected to be down 31 percent this year from 2016 levels. By some estimates, more than five dozen coal-burning power plants have closed and although mining jobs remained steady before dropping this year, they didn’t increase.
“They’ve tried to do a lot but very little has been effective,” said Seth Feaster, an analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, an organization that focuses on transitioning to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy. “It’s a pretty bleak picture for coal.”
The grim outlook for coal could take a political toll on Trump, whose 2016 victory was propelled by carrying the mining strongholds of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Trump honed his appeal to working class Americans by donning a hard hat and promising to get miners back to work four years ago, but now Democrat Joe Biden is courting the same blue-collar voters.