The month of January provided an unexpected red flag to U.S. coal executives now fuming over the Federal Energy Regulation Commission’s decision to reject Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal which called for strategically distorting U.S. energy grid markets in order to hand a struggling industry yet another subsidized bailout.
This decision was met with condemnation by one of the foulest creatures in Donald Trump’s corporate swamp, Robert Murray, who soon called for the firing of the three FERC commissioners who voted against the plan. Whether or not the request will be added to Murray’s documented wish list of met and unmet demands since Trump has taken office remains to be seen.
As a former employee of Mr. Murray, I have little to no power when it comes to suggesting an “action plan” for the current administration to follow, and neither will any average member of the working class for the remainder of his term.
Trump campaigned on fighting for the interests of the “hands” of the world with a ruse of anti-establishment populism geared towards getting us “working our asses off.” Once in office, his EPA worked theirs’ off in an environmental tit for tat of deregulatory environmental measures aimed at satisfying big coal execs.
Yeah, we got back to work, but I don’t ever remember being out of work during the Obama administration. That was left to Murray’s practice of laying off miners for politically intermittent reasons and companies overleveraged in a market slowly dying at the hands of natural gas.
Speaking about such a market change, one FERC commissioner spoke of “helping those, who through no fault of their own, have been adversely affected by technological and market change” and claiming it “is the responsibility of Congress and State Legislatures to do so.” Perhaps this was the thinking behind Hillary Clinton’s $30 Billion proposal to help transition the ailing coal industry.
If you’re going to bail anybody out when an industry finally dries up, why don’t we help the ones who actually labor and provide a basic income to any coal miner with five or more years of underground experience while they go back to school?
How about ensure no coal company is handed sweetheart bankruptcy deals, and that executives aren’t allowed to raid pensions and overcompensate themselves as ships sink?
Perhaps a tax on green energy companies as well as requiring them to employ miners could also help pave such a transition.
Ultimately, though, if the American taxpayer can bail out big banks for nefarious behavior, why can’t we bail out American coal miners for their years of hard work?
Gabriel Hunt was a roof bolter for 12 years, working for Murray Energy and Bowie Resource Partners. He is now working on a political hip-hop album under the stage name Black Güero, getting involved with environmental activist groups and working side jobs in East Carbon, Utah.