Donald Trump should stop lying about coal

By Kevin Curtis

On Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced $38.8 million in federal grants for economic development projects in communities that are experiencing the toughest impacts of a declining coal industry. The awards are among the first of President Obama’s POWER+ plan which proposes $9 billion in investments to support economic development in regions that have for many decades relied on the coal industry for jobs and economic stability. Despite the GOP’s insistence that a Trump administration will bring about a resurgence of coal, the President is forging a more realistic path forward for coal country.

Earlier this year, we reported on the dangers of playing politics with this issue. As cheap natural gas undercuts demand for coal and the United States works to limit dangerous carbon pollution that destabilizes the climate, coal-mining communities will continue to face tough economic times. President Obama aims to make a real difference in the lives of folks impacted by the transition to cleaner energy sources.

Hillary Clinton does too. Secretary Clinton has proposed a $30 billion plan to revitalize America’s coal communities, ensuring coal miners and their families retain their rightful place in a 21st century economy. Building on President Obama’s progress, Clinton’s plan would invest in the economic diversification of coal communities, creating new high-skill jobs and ensuring access to much-needed healthcare. Hillary Clinton plans to help coal communities retrain and retool, emerging healthier and more prosperous than before.

Donald Trump, however, does not. Mr. Trump promises to reopen coal mines closed by failing coal companies, companies that irresponsibly banked on an industry they knew was, in a competitive market, destined for collapse (paying out huge CEO bonuses in the process). Mr. Trump claims to be “thinking about miners all over this country.” Clearly, he isn’t.

If he were, he’d stop making empty promises to hard-working Americans who have lost pensions they’ve counted on for decades. He’d develop a plan to help laid off coal miners learn the skills they need to succeed without relocating themselves and their families. If Mr. Trump cared about the miners, he’d admit that climate change isn’t a “hoax” invented by China but an urgent problem that is profoundly changing the way Americans produce and consume energy.

The next administration must build on President Obama’s economic redevelopment progress in the face of climate change. Every effort to undermine it will leave hardworking Americans and their communities less prepared for a 21st century economy. Donald Trump’s attempt to deny American families economic opportunities for his own political gain isn’t just bad policy — it’s bad character.

Kevin Curtis is executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.