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Coal Mining Jobs Will Not Return Despite Pres. Trump’s Claims: Expert Says


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President Donald Trump states that his actions through Executive Orders will bring coal mining jobs back to America. Jonathan Norris, researcher and engineer, says that is not likely to happen.
Mining jobs have been on a steady decline since the 1980’s, according to Norris. The main reason is that natural gas has become a much cheaper way to run power plants to produce electricity.
So, even if the President eases carbon emission standards, it will not bring back mining. Coal is a more expensive way to produce electricity. So mines will not come back unless the economy allows them too, Norris says.
Norris’ research interests include energy policy, innovation systems, and the transition of small Appalachian communities from being coal bases to being economically diverse.
A native of the coal fields of Ohio, Norris describes the boom or bust history of extractive industries in his home region.
He says that when coal jobs disappeared that many small communities had no other economic base. The poverty that follows hones a type of fatalistic thinking among residents. Crime increases and drug and alcohol addiction skyrockets.
Southern Ohio, Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have the highest rates of opioid addiction in the country, Norris says.
Some efforts are being made to retrain former miners for other jobs but many of those programs rely on federal money from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). However, the ARC has been “zeroed out” in the Trump proposed budget to Congress.
If retraining programs and economic diversity programs cannot be funded then hope dims further for the mining communities out of work.