Despite promises made by President Donald Trump to revive the coal industry, CEOs from the region’s largest utilities have stated that they don’t intend to return to burning coal to make electricity.
People from coal-impacted communities across Central Appalachia recently gathered in Wise County, Va., to share their concerns and ideas with U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva.
The coal lobby’s influence over the White House is a given at this point — as is the White House’s willingness to put its finger on the scale in favor of our dirtiest, most carbon-packed energy sources.
Despite his repeated promises to do so, President Trump is unlikely to revive the coal industry through federal policy, and CEOs of electric utilities and coal mining companies know it.
For all my life, the coal economy has ruled this region and its people,” writes Ron Short of Danville, Va., in a letter supporting the Stream Protection Rule. “Now we are facing the demise of the coal industry, and we must save the valuable natural resources that we have left if we are ever to develop cultural tourism and eco-tourism as important parts of a new economy that works for everyone.”
When Congress voted last week to overturn the Stream Protection Rule, people braced themselves for the coming impacts. But threats to public water from corporate and political interests are nothing new in Central Appalachia, nor is the problem unique to this area. In the face of these threats, communities fighting for clean water need our continued support.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Interior released the Stream Protection Rule, which aims to protect streams from the impacts of surface and longwall mining. The final rule offers only modest improvements to protections for public waterways, but it is well worth defending from congressional attack.
President-elect Donald Trump has expressed his support of the coal industry. Less clear is how he will attempt to revive the struggling sector — or how he will confront the collateral damage to human health, the environment and the climate that could result.
America owes a debt to the nation’s coal miners. The Miners Protection Act would begin to pay that debt, but the opportunity for Congress to pass the bill is quickly slipping away.
“God gave us the water so we can stay clean, and so we can drink it. I don’t want poison in the water.” Those are the words of 6-year-old Levi Marney, spoken to representatives of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy at a public meeting about the proposed Doe Branch mountaintop removal mine in Haysi.