One of the many policy issues the new U.S. president will have to deal with is energy. There has been a steady decline in the use of coal to generate electricity and to power industry.
CCTV’s Jim Spellman went to the state of Ohio to examine coal’s demise and green alternatives.
In the U.S. state of Ohio a skeleton crew transfers coal to barges bound for power plants. Coal was once a thriving industry in this region, but cheaper natural gas and tightening environmental regulations are hurting the industry.
The shift towards green energy is playing out here on a personal level. JB Holliday is shift manager.
“The worst thing I’ve ever done as a manager of this coal loading facility is to have to call a young man into my office and tell him he doesn’t have a job anymore,” said Holliday.
When a coal worker loses a job they face an uncertain future.
Jobs in the coal industry in this area often pay $70,000 to $90,000 a year. There are few if any jobs available in this area that pay that well in industries other than coal.
Last year, the Murray Energy company employed 8,400 people, now it’s down to about 5,500. CEO and Founder Robert Murray says the U.S. needs cheap reliable coal, denies global warming is real and is suing the US federal government to stop tighter environmental restrictions.
The battle over coal is playing out in the race for president. Hillary Clinton shocked miners in March when she said,
“Were going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
She says those comments were taken out of context but they’ve hurt whatever chances she may have had in coal country.
Donald Trump promises to bring back the coal industry.
It’s not surprising that most here support Trump. Some environmentalists say “Green Jobs” will balance out the jobs lost in the coal industry.
But for miners here those jobs seem out of reach.
The battle between coal and green energy can seem like a battle between the past and the future but it’s a fight neither side is ready to give up on.
“The harder they push on me, the harder I’m going to push on them!” said Robert Murray of Murray Energy.
But the odds are increasingly against coal.