Trump’s Promises Are Failing As Third Biggest Coal Company Declares Bankruptcy
Trump supporters in coal country were thrilled when he was first elected. Two years later and it appears the president offered only empty promises for returning their industry to its former glory. Cloud Peak Energy formally declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past Friday and now its workforce of more than 1,000 strong are in the precarious position of wondering if their paychecks will stop.
Cloud Peak Energy is based in Wyoming and also operates plants in Montana. They insist, however, that the energy supply will be full and prosperous during the bankruptcy case. CEO Colin Marshall released a statement saying in part:
“While we undertake this process, Cloud Peak Energy remains a reliable source of high-quality coal for customers.”
This particular coal company has no union, but even companies whose workers are protected by unions may have issues with their livelihoods. The potential lack of federal funding for coal miners means that pensions may not be paid.
With cheaper ways to provide energy, such as natural gas and renewables, the coal industry is continuing to experience contraction that is not likely to slow.
Cloud Peak is not the only coal company that has recently filed bankruptcy, Alpha Natural Resources, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Mission Coal, and Westmoreland Coal all have done the same. Trump promised coal workers he would keep mines and plants open but more locations have now closed during the Trump era than during President Obama’s entire eight years.
Sadly, workers whose health suffered due to their work in the mines may not get their pensions. After coal company Westmoreland was bankrupted, a federal judge declared that the company did not have to pay pensions to its longtime employees.
In short, Trump has been terrible for coal country. Granted, with green energy, climate change, renewables, and other technological shifts likely on the horizon, this type of seismic shift was already in the works. So where does that leave coal miners who put their faith in Trump? Perhaps we’ll find out when voters take to the polls in 2020.