On Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver delved into a topic that has been prominent in the news recently thanks to President Donald Trump: the coal industry.
Though Trump used coal as a reason for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement earlier this month, Oliver dedicated his longer segment to explaining why he believes Trump needs to start being honest with coal workers.
Oliver points out that though Trump supporters push the narrative that former President Barack Obama is the cause for the decline in coal jobs due to legislation under his administration, the fact is that coal mining has been in a decline for a decade.
This has to do with the drop in natural gas prices and growth in renewable energy. Then there’s also the reality of the world we live in now when it comes to hard labor.
“The hard truth is even if consumption wasn’t declining, companies would still be cutting jobs as they are increasingly replacing miners with machines,” Oliver said.
The dilemma is that even though new energy jobs are on the rise, that’s not happening in states that have been historically known for being coal country. And because of that, Oliver believes Trump needs to be more truthful to the mining community.
But there’s a problem: He’s got friends in high places in the world of coal.
His Secretary of Commerce is Wilbur Ross, founder of International Coal Group. And during Trump’s campaign for president, one of his biggest supporters was Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy.
“If Trump really cares about miners, he would be putting a plan in place for their futures as mining continues its long-term decline, but he isn’t doing that,” Oliver said.
In fact, Oliver points out, Trump’s new budget proposal would cut funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, which helps revitalize communities affected by coal mining job losses.
“Trump needs to stop lying to coal miners. We all do,” Oliver said. “Stop telling them that their jobs are all coming back when they’re not, stop telling them coal is clean when it isn’t, and stop pretending that this isn’t an industry in the middle of a difficult, albeit necessary transition. An honest conversation about coal and its miners needs to be had.”
Watch John Oliver’s segment on coal below: