The head of America’s “largest privately held” coal firm has expressed optimism for his industry under President Donald Trump after a meeting held last month.

Murray Energy’s CEO and founder Robert Murray spoke with The Guardian on Monday. He believes that Trump will stick to his campaign promises for the coal industry by reducing regulations and overturning a few of President Barack Obama’s plans related to climate change.

It’s hard to deny his thoughts as coal communities in Virginia have seen a drastic positive change since Trump became president.

Cutting Back on Regulations

Murray hailed Trump’s decision to overturn Obama’s the Clean Power Plan (CPP). He blamed the plan “for shuttering coal-fired power plants and freezing new constructions during the Obama presidency.”

He also hopes that Trump will undo Obama’s decision to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. As Murray points out, previous environment regulations did not support this theory:

“Carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act of 1971 was never a pollutant,” said Murray. “That endangerment finding needs to be overturned. It’s on my list of what needs to be done, because carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.”

“We do not have a climate change or global warming problem, we have an energy cost problem,” Murray told the Guardian.

Last month, Trump signed an order to repeal the Stream Protection rule, which prohibited “coal companies from dumping mining debris in streams.” Murray lashed out at this plan, labeling it “unlawful and destructive.”

One Caution

However, despite the optimism, Murray asked Trump to lower his expectations on bringing back coal mining jobs.

Murray told Trump that a lot of the lost jobs came from technology and competition from other energy sources:

“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them back.”

Will Coal Thrive Under Trump?

Murray seems to think so:

“I would not say it’s a good time in the coal industry. It’s a better time,” he said.

“Politically it’s much better. Barack Obama and his Democrat supporters were the greatest destroyers the United States of America has ever seen in its history. He destroyed reliable electric power in America, he destroyed low-cost electric power in America, and he attempted to totally destroy the United States coal industry.”

He also reminded The Guardian why Trump won: he actually listened to everyday Americans in crossover country. While the Democrats and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wined and dined with the elite, Trump paid attention to those who make America run:

“I live among these people. These are the people who fought the wars and built our country and they were forgotten by Democrats who had gone to Hollywood characters, liberal elitists and radical environmentalists. That’s all they represent today. They lost these quiet Americans. This was a victory for the working people,” he said.

Overall, though, Murray believes the coal industry will rise again under Trump, thinking the president will “level the playing field.” Remember how Obama used to pour money into other energy sources only for them to fail? *sough*Solyndra*cough* Murray hopes those subsidies will end:

“Get the government out of picking winners and losers,” he said. “We have to get the government out of the manipulation of the energy markets.”

Changes Already Felt

Earlier this month, Fox News highlighted changes already being felt by a city in Virginia “where residents see coal as the once and future king.” The community has already started to thrive again:

Trucks are running again. Miners working seven days a week cannot keep up with current demand. Coal mines, long dormant after the industry’s collapse, are now buzzing again with antlike activity.

“We load coal every day for the power plant in Virginia City,” explained Rick, a long-time supervisor for a major local operation who did not want to give his last name. “There’s one shipment a week for Georgia Power, and one for Tennessee Eastman.”

The past month has seen a resurgence of the coal industry that once formed the backbone of the region’s economy, and locals credit President Trump’s aggressive, pro-energy agenda.

The community has noticed a major change in the “met coal” markets, which is used to make steel. The price for that coal has jumped “twice as high as it was a year ago.” Ramasco Resources started a coal mine in December and the company hopes to open two more in 2017. Corsa Coal will open a mine in May.


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