Coal and the people who mine it have exploded onto the public consciousnesssince the election of President Donald Trump last fall. Trump promised to endwhat he described as an Obama-era “war on coal.” On the campaign trail and on Thursday he said that the rough conditions coal miners face would be turned around by a new era of American “energy dominance.”
“You’ve gone through eight years of hell,” Trump said. But “we have finally ended the war on coal.”
But, despite the rhetoric, suffering in coal country is not a new phenomenon.
Coal production has generally ramped up steadily since the conclusion of World War II, with an occasional downturn. But during the same time period the number of people employed by the industry has declined dramatically, as machines have replaced humans and engineers have invented more efficient ways to mine coal.