Can President Trump Trigger a Coal Industry About-Face?

Kendra Cato


On January 20, 2017 Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. During his campaign, he assured the citizens of this country he would Make America Great Again, and one of the many ways he promised to reach that goal was through reviving the coal industry. One avenue President Trump has vowed to take is the dismantling of the Obama administration’s coal regulations, including the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a rule proposed in 2015 under the Clean Air Act to force power plants to decrease their carbon emissions, helping to address climate change.

Critics of the CPP say it is an assault on the coal industry that will kill jobs while greatly increasing energy costs for the American consumer. Supporters say it’s an historical step in the right direction of fighting pollution and climate change that will have little effect on the already-declining coal industry.

The CPP was stayed by the Supreme Court a year ago, in February 2016, and with Trump’s election and subsequent nominations of Scott Pruitt (a self-proclaimed “leading activist against the EPA’s activist agenda”) to the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, it’s not clear how the plan will go forward. However, the issues the CPP has raised on both sides have shined a spotlight on the state of the American coal industry and what has shaped its steep decline over the last decade.