AUSTIN, Texas — Nearly half of Americans (43 percent) want President Donald Trump to take actions to revive the struggling U.S. coal industry despite strong market signals that coal will continue to be displaced by cheaper and cleaner forms of energy, according to the latest UT Energy Poll.
Of the of survey respondents who support such actions by the president, 42 percent point to job creation as the top reason, 23 percent say coal is a necessary fuel source, and another 23 percent say a coal industry revival would hasten energy independence.
These findings reflect a disconnect between energy market conditions, which show a steady decline in the use of coal for electricity generation, and statements made by Trump, who has pledged to revitalize the coal industry and create coal-mining jobs.
The poll also reveals that 64 percent of Americans believe the president can have an impact on the future of the U.S. coal industry — up from 55 percent just six months ago. Most experts agree that current market conditions, namely an abundance of inexpensive natural gas and increasingly competitive forms of renewable energy, will prevail regardless of policy or regulatory changes.
Efforts to resuscitate the coal industry, such as a recent rollback of environmental regulations that would have imposed strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions, will not affect market trends and conditions, according to Michael Webber, deputy director of the UT Austin’s Energy Institute.