Americans are burning less coal every year, but thousands more of them are making a living from mining it.
The average number of coal-mining jobs under the Obama administration has been 15.3 percent higher than the average under George W. Bush, according to a new report [PDF] from the nonprofit Appalachian Voices. The report tries to debunk the claim made by coal-mining companies that Obama is waging war on them. The growth in coal-mining jobs in all of the leading coal-mining states is attributable, the group says, to a surge in exports and to a decline in mining efficiency as workers attempt to scour the last deposits from mines.
(We recently brought you the bad news that U.S. coal exports more than doubled between 2009 and 2012 to more than 115 million tons, counterbalancing the climate-friendly advances made by shutting down coal-fired power plants in the U.S.)
From the Appalachian Voices report:
“These numbers show pretty clearly that the purported ‘war on coal’ is an utter fabrication,” says Matt Wasson, director of programs at Appalachian Voices. “Even as this administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are making some important steps toward controlling coal pollution — from mining, burning, and burying the waste — the job numbers nationwide have been growing.”
While the data show some variations among coal-producing states, each of the top ten has had more mining jobs on average under the Obama administration than under the Bush administration. Nine of those states saw higher coal mining employment in 2012 than at any point during the Bush years. …
“We continue to hear industry’s cries that environmental regulations are unfair and costly. The fact is, the costs have always been there, only they’ve been borne by the people living in coal-impacted communities who can’t drink their water, who are breathing polluted air, who are suffering from cancer and heart disease,” says Wasson.
To all the coal companies out there complaining that rules and regulations are making life hard for you, please, cry us a river.
No, seriously, cry us a river please. You’ve ruined many of ours and we would like some of them back.
Get Grist in your inbox