Trump Administration considers the implications of coal mining in the U.S.


Bringing back coal mining jobs was a focal point of Donald Trump’s campaign and he has begun to follow through with his promise by undoing an Obama coal mining rule on February 17.
The rule he overturned was the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, which was signed in the closing days of the Obama presidency.
Since Obama left office, Republicans in Congress have been pushing to rollback regulations.
The coal mining sector disapproved of the rule, claiming it would lead to job losses and be too costly to implement.
The Trump Administration aims to deregulate business with the intention to create jobs and improve the economy, however the coal mining industry is already experiencing negative financial effects due to the demand for other forms of energy.
Trump stated the rule was “another terrible job killing rule” and rolling it back would add “many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines, which, I have been promising you — the mines are a big deal.”
Environmentalists supported the Obama coal mining rule because it protected waterways from the public health and environmental impacts of mining coal.
Democrats believe alternative energy sources are better for the future of the U.S. economy than the deregulation of the coal mining sector. They also believe the Trump Administration should focus on the health and pension plans of the coal miners, instead of deregulating the sector.
Burning coal produces toxic byproducts consisting of fly ash, flue-gas desulfurization sludge and bottom ash that contain arsenic, mercury, thorium, uranium and other heavy metals.
The World Health Organization estimated that air pollution from coal shortens around one million lives every year.
Coal mining and the burning of coal have many environmental impacts including water management, land use and air and water pollution. Significant public health problems arouse from these environmental impacts.
Due to the negative health effects for miners associated with subsurface mining, surface mining has become much more common. Currently, it produces 85% of minerals and 98% of metallic ores.
Strip mining and mountaintop removal mining are the two main forms of surface mining and both cause significant immediate environmental and health degradation.
Mining impairs adjacent waterways due to erosion and chemical runoff. Sediments erode into nearby streams due to the removal of vegetation and topsoil, which causes disruption of stream flow and geomorphology.
Natural chemicals exposed from mining and synthetic chemicals used by the mining industry runoff into waterways and infiltrate the soil into groundwater.
Pyrite is a mineral that becomes exposed during mining processes. It forms sulfuric acid when it comes in contact with water and air.
The geology of the Albany region features porous rocks, like shale, which allows for soil infiltration rates to increase. Coal mining can also lower adjacent aquifer levels and change flow direction.
Land use becomes reduced when coal mining is present. Residents might be inclined to move.
If the Trump Administration continues to incentivize the coal mining sector, the term “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) will likely begin to appear in the news more often.
NIMBY is a term that represents people who resist certain types of energy production near their residences due to the negative health effects associated with it. Hunting, agriculture and tourism can become interrupted, deteriorating local economies.
Coal mining and combustion are significant emitters of greenhouse gases, which drive climate change. Natural methane is a product of the decay of organic matter, like coal. As coal is mined, methane is released.
The combustion of coal produces carbon dioxide. Many environmentalists believe coal is worse than any other energy source when it comes to contributing to climate change.
Carbon dioxide and other gases can become toxic and get carried long distances and pollute air in regions far away from where the coal is combusted.
Coal consists of radioactive isotopes, like radium, thorium and uranium, which when released can lead to radioactive contamination.
The Trump Administration has a lot on its agenda but has made it clear that the deregulation of business is a priority. Trump is considering whether renewable energy, like solar and wind, is the future of the world economy.
Land use, water management and air and water pollution are all major environmental impacts of burning and mining coal.


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