Here's yet another sign that Trump is failing on his promise to revive the coal industry

Here's yet another sign that Trump is failing on his promise to revive the coal industry
Michael Vadon

Cloud Peak Energy is the fourth largest coal producer in the United States. Up until 2018, it was the third largest producer. On Friday, May 10, Cloud Peak Energy filed for bankruptcy, choosing not to pay a $1.8 million loan due that day. According to a statement from the President of Cloud Peak, Colin Marshall:

Over the past several months, Cloud Peak Energy has thoroughly evaluated strategic alternatives to address the challenging market conditions in our industry. “We believe, at this time, that a sale process in Chapter 11 will provide the best opportunity to maximize value for Cloud Peak Energy.

One of the gambits that the company had made this past year, was to invest in foreign markets, something that didn’t pan out for the company as coal prices in the Asian market collapsed this past year. Andy Blumenfeld, a market analyst for an energy research firm, told Wyoming Public Media that in many respects, Cloud Peak Energy didn’t suffer from being run poorly as a coal business, but that the coal business cannot be run the way it once was.“They’re a good operator, but the strategy didn’t ultimately work out for them mostly because I don't think anyone foresaw the incursion into their marketplace of so much natural gas and renewables.”

Coal’s declining prices and loss of market shares has been happening for a long time, and blaming Trump or McConnell for that would be silly. But Republicans like Trump and McConnell have run for office on the conjob fantasy promise that they would be bringing coal jobs back to the United States, when all they have actually been doing is figuring out ways to squeeze taxpayers to pay off coal magnates while those companies close plants and cut jobs.

This doesn’t mean that coal will stop being produced and sold. Companies like Arch Coal and their Black Thunder mine, and Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle Mine (NARM), will pick up the slack and produce 100 million tons of the stuff in a year. Both companies filed for bankruptcy protections during the downturn in coal in 2015-2016—something Cloud Peak had been able to avoid until Friday.

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