Despite Trump tweaks to coal policy, outlook remains unclear for industry workers and retirees

President Donald Trump enjoyed plenty of support from coal towns during November’s election. Many current and former coal workers in those towns are hoping Trump will now give them some help in return.

Legislation known as the Miners Protection Act would preserve pension and health benefits for about 23,000 retired union miners at risk of losing them amid the industry’s widespread bankruptcies. Though the bill is currently in the hands of Congress, Trump has yet to throw any public support behind it.

The uncertainty swirling around coal workers isn’t limited just to unionized retirees. The rest of the industry is waiting to see whether Trump’s campaign-trail vows to ease regulations can reverse its fortunes and ultimately lead to jobs.

Little more than one month into his presidency, Trump has already acted on some of those promises. Flanked by miners in hard hats, Trump signed legislation on Feb. 16 reversing a still-new policy, promulgated by the administration of President Barack Obama, called the Stream Protection Rule that sought to reduce the impact of mine waste on surrounding watersheds. The Trump administration is also poised to eliminate an Obama moratorium on leasing federal land for coal mining, and has signaled to fossil fuel companies that it will not enforce a recent hike in mineral royalties for resources extracted from leased land.

But significant questions remain about whether those immediate tweaks to coal policy will move the needle in any meaningful way.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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