Photo: CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

The Truth about Coal, in Under Three Minutes

, senior energy analyst | February 12, 2018, 2:23 pm EST
Bookmark and Share

This post is a part of a series on Coal-in-Context

Coal’s been on the way out for a while now. Why is that? For a quick and accessible look at the state of the coal industry—where it’s been and where it’s going—check out the new video from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

We’ve been writing about coal’s decline and its implications—and setting the record straight on misinformation about coal—for quite some time: responding to the administration’s cheerleading of coal, assessing and understanding the shift away from coal-fired electricity, why the transition away from coal is hard on workers and communities, and how intrepid business leaders in Coal Country are leading the way to new economic opportunities.

We kicked off a blog series recently with an explanation of why a slight increase in coal jobs in 2017 is no indication of a long-term trend. In this second Coal in Context blog, I’d like to highlight a short video on the reasons behind coal’s decline.


The need for a just transition

Here at UCS, we value facts and evidence—and we’re doing our part to set the record straight in a time of great uncertainty. It’s important to emphasize that the coal industry is not returning to its heyday and will instead continue to decline, despite what you may hear from administration officials and the president himself. That propaganda is dangerous because it leads to false hope—leading some to refuse training opportunities in other industries, hoping that coal mining jobs materialize.

Let’s take the longer-term view and understand that coal communities will need to develop new economic sectors to support good-paying jobs in the future—and that it is our collective responsibility to invest in those communities—through proposals like the RECLAIM Act and the POWER Initiative—so they can succeed.

We also need to take the longer-term view on the power sector as a whole– to address the urgent threat of climate change. Yet the administration continues its efforts to rescind the Clean Power Plan, something I testified against back in November in West Virginia. Please join our efforts to push back on these misguided actions—and share the video with your friends to help spread the truth.

Posted in: Energy Tags: , , , ,

Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.

Show Comments

Comment Policy

UCS welcomes comments that foster civil conversation and debate. To help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion, please focus comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand, and refrain from personal attacks. Posts that are commercial, self-promotional, obscene, rude, or disruptive will be removed.

Please note that comments are open for two weeks following each blog post. UCS respects your privacy and will not display, lend, or sell your email address for any reason.

  • coalminerson

    I’m a coal miner’s son. So was my Dad. He entered into anthracite coal mining with his father in the Roaring 20s at the age of 15. Spent much of the next 35 years of his life underground. I am very aware of the plight of modern coal miners, Been there in the 50s in Pennsylvania. My Dad died at the age of 66 after suffering many years with Black Lung. He passed away only one month after receiving his first Black Lung Benefits check. It was heartbreaking to see strong men fight for a deep breath of air. It also happened that our local environment was a black disaster that we never took seriously. Homes were undermined and gas fields burned constantly. Few owned white picket fences.

    This article is truth telling. I suggest young miners take every opportunity to find a new and much needed occupation. I volunteered for military service and planned to use my GI Bill if I survived, My friends did too. It was the only way our of the colliers in 1961. I’m STEM trained and had a great high tech career in California. Now retired. My Dad was proud that his three boys were college educated. BTW, in the 50s, Pennsylvania hard coal could not compete with the soft coal mining industry of Kentucky and W.Virginia. Trump is not doing modern coal miners any favors.

    • Jeremy

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad to hear that this resonates with you. I lost my grandfather to black lung as well–and it’s disturbing to read reports that the disease is becoming more prevalent, because it’s entirely preventable.