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promises, promises

Donald Trump promises to revive the coal industry. He can’t.

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to make the industry great again. “If I win we’re going to bring those miners back,” he said to an audience in West Virginia before donning a miner’s hat and doing a little working-in-the-coal-mine dance.

But for the coal industry — which donated about $223,000 to Trump’s campaign — reality is less rosy. Sure, shares in the bankrupt coal company Peabody soared nearly 50 percent the day after Trump’s victory. But that’s just Wall Street’s knee-jerk response. The fact is, the coal industry’s future is — at best — flat, according to analysts.

Over the last eight years, coal’s portion of the American electricity supply has dropped from half to a third, a result of falling natural gas prices, declining demand from China, and regulatory efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The best Trump can do, says Bloomberg News, is halt coal’s steep decline.

But even though Trump can’t save Big Coal, he can severely damage the planet by enabling the industry. He has promised to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, ignore the Paris climate agreement, and end investments in renewables. Just as coal can’t be revived, the planet can’t either.