Of course, there were no discouraging words to be found in local reporter and fossil fuel propagandist Casey Junkins' coverage of Donald Trump's speech to the energy conference in Pittsburgh last Thursday. (I wrote about it here.) There were certainly some in the national media, however. Here's a summary of some of those reports.
The Washington Post's headline tells us:
Trump loves coal. Today he championed the industry that’s killing it.
As Steven Mufson reports:
Trump’s message of boosting the Pennsylvania shale gas business while also restoring coal industry jobs in West Virginia and elsewhere in the Appalachians was inherently contradictory, critics said.
Coal's biggest competitor has been cheap, abundant natural gas from shale gas drilling, and no place has larger shale gas reserves than Pennsylvania’s Marcellus region. Even without President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, coal would be hard-pressed to vie with gas.
Not unlike most of the other critics, Mufson points to the difficulty of promoting both coal and natural gas.
Ken Silverstein, writing in Forbes, made similar points:
It’s a campaign with a lot lip service but with little detail. Donald Trump’s energy speech in Pittsburgh on Thursday was more of the same — one that promised to put “America first” and to rollback regulations that he says are helping the environment but hurting the country.
While the Republican nominee for U.S. president doesn’t want to provide specifics, the details are what matter — and the duality of his views are worthy of discussion. With that, Trump has promised to return the coal sector to greatness, allowing it to “fully” restore itself to an earlier time when it was the dominant fuel used to generate electricity. But such thinking runs head first into another of his proposals, which is to promote shale gas and to limit regulations on the exploration techniques to bring such unconventional fuels to surface.
Cited by both Mufson and Silverstein is the best article that I found on Trump's speech. "Digging Himself Into a Hole: Trump’s Empty Coal Promises" by Matt Goldberg from the Third Way. (The Washington Post article describes Third Way as a "centrist think tank.")
Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has promised to “bring the coal industry back 100 percent.” Much like his other grand promises to build a “big, beautiful wall” or temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, this bold assertion doesn’t seem to be based in any economic or political realities.
Trump claims that environmental regulations are “killing” coal and that by rolling them back, the industry would be saved. But environmental regulations aren’t to blame. Rather, the real culprits for decreasing coal employment are cheap, abundant natural gas and better, more efficient mining technology.
Goldberg addresses the critics (he probably wasn't thinking of them but this sounds like Murray Energy and our local papers) who blame the EPA:
Trump and his allies have railed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its “totalitarian tactics.” But again, the main reason why coal employment has declined over the years is that mining has become much more efficient. . . .
To raise employment levels, Trump would have to ban the use of technology that increases productivity—the same technology that makes coal cheaper and therefore more competitive in the market. This less productive, more expensive coal would have to be offset with public subsidies even higher than the $11 billion mentioned above.
Finally, for a broader and slightly-different perspective I would recommend Mark Sumner's diary at the Daily Kos. Sumner explains the glut in the oil, gas and coal industries which is causing numerous bankruptcies. He then gets to Trump and coal:
The pretense that Donald Trump can put a single coal miner back on the job is just that—a pretense. It won’t happen. It can’t happen. Because people don’t dig up coal for no reason. It has to be burned to have value, and no one wants to burn it.
At this moment, there are 156 million tons of coal sitting in stockpiles at US power plants. That’s even though coal production in the country is down by 164 million tons in just the last year. Why isn’t there more demand for coal? Look two paragraphs up—gas is incredibly cheap. The fracking boom has decimated the coal industry. Decimated doesn’t even cover it.
(Note -- all four of these sources provide links to their cited evidence.)
Our "newspapers" offered no critique of Trump's message nor did they catch the contradiction of Trump's push for both coal and natural gas. After rereading the Friday coverage and then reading these articles, Junkins coverage really does look like propaganda for Trump and, despite the contradiction, the coal and natural gas industries.