EHRENFELD, PA. – From Appalachia to Wyoming, surging demand for cheap natural gas, tougher environmental regulations and multiple coal company bankruptcies have left behind a devastated coal business, lost jobs and billions of dollars in cleanup work.
Many of the jobs are gone for good, but ex-miners can repair the damaged land and shape a post-coal economy, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said on a recent visit to coal country, offering up a future starkly different from Donald Trump’s.
Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, promises to return coal country to its glory days by repealing environmental regulations. “We will put our coal miners and steel workers back to work,” he said in a speech in Detroit on Monday.
Jewell, standing atop an abandoned mine last week on Thursday, had a different message from the Obama administration.
The United States, she said, will shift to cleaner renewable energy. Coal will continue to play a role but a diminished one. She said Washington will not abandon coal communities.
“There is a brighter future for coal country if we step up and fund reclamation projects,” Jewell said to a crew of former miners at a ceremony for the first cleanup program to receive a grant under a new, $90 million federal pilot grant program.
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