Over the last six years coal prices have gone from record highs to plummeting lows, putting three of the four largest U.S. coal firms into bankruptcy. Although coal mining employment has been declining for decades, Donald Trump campaigned for the U.S. presidency on a platform that promised to reverse what he called his predecessor’s “war on coal.” Since taking office, the new administration has begun to reverse Obama-era environmental policies, and is fielding increasing calls from policymakers and industry alike to do more for coal firms and jobs. This month, West Virginia governor Jim Justice proposed that the federal government provide subsidies to revive the Appalachian coal industry, calling the issue a matter of national security. Yet the Trump Administration rejected a coal industry push to win a rarely used emergency order to protect coal-fired power plants, a decision that has angered some coal executives.
To put all of these recent developments into context, host Jason Bordoff sits down with Trevor Houser, a partner at the Rhodium Group, to discuss a report they co-authored together with Peter Marsters this year--Coal Make a Comeback?--about the U.S. coal industry, its decline, and prospects for its recovery.