Coal country questions if Trump can bring jobs back

The mine once employed more than 120 miners

(CNN) – President Donald Trump took aim Tuesday at one of President Obama’s signature efforts on climate change. He signed an executive order to start undoing Obama’s clean power plan.

The administration said President Trump is delivering on a key campaign promise, to restore coal mining jobs. However, not everyone in the coal industry believe the coal business will see a big boom in the U.S. soon.

Kingdom Coal Mine number 9 in Redfox Kentucky is back in business.

When asked, “How rare is it to open a mine these days?” Jamie Maggard, a mine superintendent laughed, “It’s pretty rare.”

Shutting down last year, the mine once employed more than 120 miners. Maggard said, “Right now we have 20 employees and we’ve probably taken 260 to 300 applications.”

Three miles into the Kingdom Coal Mine, they just started moving coal here this week. It’s the first glimmer of hope this area has had for a long time. That glimmer, starting with President Trump’s pro-coal agenda.

Maggard said, “It’s made a big improvement.” “We probably wouldn’t be working today.”

Cheap natural gas, automation, and government regulation forcing a steep and rapid decline in the coal industry. However, even with the President rolling back Obama era environmental regulations, no one expects coal to come back the way it was.

Zachary Combs Weinberg, the Knott County Judge Executive said, “At the end of the day it comes to market and whether the price of the market is there and we’ll just have to see if the price goes up their gonna mine coal.”

President Trump promises to bring back jobs. When asked, “Do you think the price of coal and the industry will come back to where it was 10 years ago?” Maggard replied, “I don’t think it’ll ever be back to that point. If it’ll just level out what we got, I think that will be good.”

Knott County alone, with a population of 16,000, lost about 1,000 high paying mining jobs over the last several years. Ancillary jobs, like trucking, also disappeared.

Bryanlee Wagner, a coal hauler said, “This thing firing back up has helped a lot, so it’s a pretty big deal.”

As coal declined, business owner Dion Slone closed one of his convenience stores and cut operating hours on his remaining business.

When asked, “How big a deal is it that a mine is opening here?” Slone answered, “It’s great. If you can put a few hundred people back to work it means the world.”