Coal country is celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory. Support for Trump was strong from Appalachia to Wyoming, and people have high hopes he can reverse coal’s recent downturn. But can he?
Like most of his co-workers, Jeremy Murphy listened to the election results on the radio in his pickup truck as he worked the overnight shift at the country’s largest coal mine, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
“The two-way radios at work were really quiet,” he said. “Really, really quiet.”
Donald Trump promised sweeping reforms to the energy industry during the campaign. He vowed to bring back coal jobs, boost domestic oil and gas production, back out of international climate change agreements and gut the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency says it could take two years to develop an accurate method for measuring the impact of its regulations on coal jobs.
In October, in response to a lawsuit from Murray Energy, one of the nation's largest coal companies, a federal district court judge in West Virginia ordered the EPA to start quantifying the impact of its air quality regulations on jobs.
Things are looking up in the coal market, but 2017 is still going to be a tough year—that was the message from Cloud Peak Energy’s CEO during the company’s latest earnings calls.
Colin Marshall said a hot summer helped boost demand for coal domestically, as power plants ramped up to meet electricity demand for air conditioning. But the company’s coal shipments are still down by 26 percent from the same period last year.