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FactChecking Trump on Coal Jobs

On NBC10 in Philadelphia’s “@ Issue” program on June 18, FactCheck.org Deputy Managing Editor Robert Farley discussed President Donald Trump pointing to the opening of a new coal mine in Pennsylvania as evidence that his administration is “putting the miners back to work.” Construction of the mine began before the 2016 election. And experts say it’s not evidence of a resurgence in coal mining.

The mine in question produces a particular type of coal that is used to make steel. That’s a bit of a niche market in the coal industry, accounting for just 10 percent of coal production in the U.S. There has been a surge in demand for this kind of coal because of production problems overseas.

However, the vast majority of coal produced in the U.S. is thermal coal, the kind used to generate electricity. Consumption of that kind of coal has declined by nearly 18 percent between 2012 and 2016, mostly due to the surge in cheaper natural gas production driven by the shale revolution and to competition from renewable energy.

Environmental regulations — which Trump has targeted — also hurt coal mining, but according to an April report from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, those regulations were a “significantly smaller factor” in the shrinking of the coal industry. Industry experts say Trump’s efforts to roll back those regulations might stem the decline in coal consumption, but would not bring coal mining jobs back to levels seen even a few years ago.

For the full FactCheck.org analysis, see our story, “Trump’s Coal Spin.

This video is part of FactCheck.org’s partnership with NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal, to produce fact-checking segments for local NBC stations.