Many fossil fuel executives are celebrating President Trump’s move to dismantle the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But their cheers are muted, because market forces and state initiatives continue to elevate coal’s rivals, especially natural gas and renewable energy.But that really might be enough for Trump fans. Remember, they believe in anecdotes, not data. We point out statistics indicating that crime in the U.S. is at historic lows and they say, "What about all those murders in Chicago over the weekend?" We quote studies showing that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native-born and they say, "What about that illegal guy who committed that rape?" We say that the Trump administration really isn't bringing jobs back and they say, "What about that announcement we just heard saying hundreds of jobs are being added?" (In most cases, these are personnel decisions that were made long before Trump was elected.)
In coal’s favor, there is the new promise that federal lands will be open for leasing, ending an Obama-era moratorium. Easing pollution restrictions could delay the closing of some old coal-fired power plants, slowing the switch by some utilities to other sources....
For coal executives, however, optimism and expansion plans remain guarded. Regulatory relief could restore 10 percent of their companies’ lost market share at most, they say — nowhere near enough to return coal to its dominant position in power markets and put tens of thousands of coal miners to work.
A few coal jobs will be saved, a few coal jobs might even open up ... and still the long-term trends won't change significantly at all. But the Trumpers don't care about facts. They believe anecdotes. Trump feeds them anecdotes. Fox feeds them anecdotes. And they respond on cue. So, years from now, they really might believe he saved the coal industry, even as it's still dying.