On Thursday, EPA head Scott Pruitt visited the Harvey Mine, a coal mine in western Pennsylvania, to regurgitate some of his favorite talking points—that the EPA is an unhinged, anti-coal agency that he’s reining in through systematic self-destruction. Pruitt promised the “regulatory assault” on coal was over, saying the EPA will be protecting the environment “the American way,” and insinuating a return to the glory days of American coal production circa 1958.
It was an impressive day of half-truths, distortions and lies, ironically undercut by Pruitt’s venue of choice. You see, Harvey Mine’s owner, Consol Energy, is trying to exit the long-failing coal industry. Citing Bloomberg, the New Republic pointed out that Consol Energy CEO, Nicholas Deiuliis, sees short-term benefits to deregulation, but doesn’t think loosening up pollution restrictions is enough to save coal:
[Deiuliis] acknowledged that a relaxation of regulations on mining and carbon emissions under the Trump administration would help coal. But not enough to persuade Consol to stay in it. If anything, the optimism injected into the coal sector by the election result and the re-emergence of large miners from bankruptcy … simply provides a window to offload the business.
The consensus among energy experts and economists is that competition from natural gas and green energy sources like solar and wind power, which are cleaner than coal and whose costs are falling rapidly, is having a much greater impact on the mining industry than environmental regulation. That doesn’t stop Pruitt from promising that by relaxing restrictions on carbon pollution and toxins like mercury, he and Trump can revive the industry.
“The past administration said we had to choose between the environment and job growth,” Pruitt said to the miners. “This administration says the opposite.”