Friends of Coal is a powerful force in Kentucky politics
Last week President Trump made a vow to the American people. As he signed into law by Presidential executive orders new EPA rules, he made this statement, "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal."
Trump was repealing and changing most of President Obama's climate change policies from 2017.
War Gets Worse
Yet, the War on Coal is not going very well for East Kentucky. On Monday, July 1, 2019, Revelation Energy LLC and its affiliate, Blackjewel LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Based in West Virginia, the companies filed in the Southern District of West Virginia.
The immediate impact to the War on Coal in Kentucky will be the fate of over 1,100 miners who work and live in and around Eastern Kentucky. Coal company leadership said that declining demand for thermal and metallurgical coal and declining commodity prices were the base cause for their actions with the Chapter 11 protection. Also noted in the court protection were concerns over tighter government regulations and major competition from natural gas and renewable energy.
Left on the table will be massive debts in the millions as well as all most 100 state federal violations of rules for operations.
This action is the second coal company going bankrupt in the past two weeks. Cambrian Coal, LLC., also sought protection from creditors and federal state violations.
Cambrian operates at three primary sites: Perry County Coal, near Hazard; Premier Elkhorn Coal, LLC., near Dorton; and Clintwood Elkhorn Mining, LLC., in Eastern Kentucky and western Virginia.
Lies on Coal Battlefield
As a national market, big coal production has seen a sharp downward spiral for profits and market share of providing energy to America.
As of 2012, the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet figures for coal production in Kentucky's Eastern region stood at 68 million tons. The states new figures for 2018 showed that the market had fallen to 17 million tons produced.
The number of coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky dropped from 13,600 to less than 4,000 from 2012 through 2018. Major coal producer declares bankruptcy kentucky.com
The familiar "blame Obama" refrain from the right is a too easy to repeat untruth. "As CBS News reported last month, consumption and production of coal were actually at a higher level during the administration of former President Barack Obama." - Newsweek July 3, 2019
Coal production hit an all time high in 2006 but that didn't translate into significantly more mines and more mining jobs in the Appalachian coal fields. The Powder River Basin of the western US took leadership in coal production in 2000. Underground labor intensive mining began losing out to surface "strip" mines. Big diggers don't need many operators. Deep mines closed and miners lost their jobs.
Continuing to tell Appalachian coal miners that their mines will again be ascendant is a cruel hoax. "Employment of 50,000 coal miners is down from a peak of 883,000 in 1923." Coal mining in the US - Wikipedia
Maybe Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and his staff need to brief President Trump on the facts of a declining coal product that the world is turning their back on.
But wait, McConnell also speaks lies to the people of coal country. The Senator and President Trump have figured it is easier to lie to the people than to actually help them work toward modern 21st Century jobs and quality of life.
The really sad part of this story is that for many coal workers. Black lung is back in a more virulent form of the disease. Miners are getting sicker and dying at a younger age.
"The resurgence of black lung disease among coal miners, starting in the mid-1990s, has been blamed, in part, on changes in mining practices. This includes longer shifts, increased surface mining and mining of narrower, lower-grade coal beds, which create more silica dust. Silica is much more toxic to the lungs than coal dust." MedPage Today
Coal miners, their families and their communities have been abandoned by their president, their senator and their governor. That's the reality of their future. All in the name of shifting political pain away to someone else.
As a way of new political national and state reality, these politicians have found out that it is easier to lie than to offer hope. The truly tragic aspect of this story is that many uninformed voters of Eastern Kentucky actually believe the lies.