For the past few years, politicians have gained votes in the coalfields by raising false hopes about a resurgence of coal.
During his campaign, presidential candidate Donald Trump echoed the Republican line on coal: that it’s abundant, and unfairly targeted by environmental regulations under President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Obama has decimated the coal industry, decimated it, and we’re going to bring the coal industry back, folks,” he said at a rally in Louisville.
This rhetoric is familiar to Kentuckians. For the past few years, politicians have gained votes in the coalfields by raising false hopes about a resurgence of coal. In Eastern Kentucky, more than 12,000 miners have been laid off since 2009. And here — as in other places around the country — Trump’s economic promises found a receptive audience.
But analysts agree that the tide is turning away from coal — and Appalachian coal will likely never return to its previous heights. After years of blaming Obama for the decline, who will Republicans blame now that they’ve captured Congress and the presidency?