Will the Trump administration be able to put American coal miners back to work as promised during his campaign? It may be more than difficult; closer to impossible.
Many mines have been shut down. Miners have moved on, seeking other ways to feed their families because of what has been called President Barack Obama’s “war on coal.”
The problem began long before Obama was elected in 2008. Fortune Magazine blames technology and market forces.The government’s clean air act has played a significant role as well
Coal has long been a target of environmentalists who give no thought to what happens to the miners who lost their jobs. Many men in West Virginia went down in the mines when they were young, and very few attended college.
When Barack Obama was elected president he promised “hope and change.” There has been drastic change without question, but very little hope for the miners and their families.
The environmentalists seemed pleased. Coal was their enemy. Their happiness doesn’t surprise us. We have a home on a lake in Maine, where I sometimes fish.
We have been told by the State of Maine the mercury level found in the bass, perch and trout is so high the fish are dangerous to eat. We were told mercury found in the fish comes from drifting coal smoke from Midwest power plants and factories.
The chemicals land on New England lakes. So it is risky to eat the fish.That has led to more ”catch and release.”
Catch a fish, then unhook it and let it go. Hopefully it will survive.
Jeff Hammond, a native of West Virginia has worked for the coal industry for much of his life. Most of time he has worked on the surface, not down in the dark deep, shafts. He is an electrician trained by the Navy. He has lung problems because coal was dumped in piles on the surface when miners brought it up from underground. Coal dust was constantly in the air, he says.
I am familiar with coal dust. When I was a boy every home in the Moline,Illinois neighborhood we lived in was heated with coal. Our downstairs neighbor, Lem Wimpy, drove home from work in his coal truck. His job was to dump the coal into basement coal bins, When it snowed I could never build a snowman because the snow was so heavily coated with black soot.
Back then we were told coal was so plentiful that the generations that followed us would stay warm for at least 200 years. We were impressed. By the time I reached the fourth or fifth grade we were aware our country still wasn’t even two centuries old.
Now many families have switched to oil for winter heat, Oil is often shipped from the Middle East, countries that have no love for Americans. Or they shipped the oil before fracking became common.
Former President Jimmy Carter was so afraid we would run out of foreign oil and gasoline, he made us slow down to 55 on our highways. Carter was brilliant, at least on paper. his degree was in nuclear physics, which probably makes him equal to the proverbial “rocket scientist” so often mentioned.
Many more of Jeff Hammond’s friends lost their jobs when President Obama announced he would replace coal with solar panels and windmills. It didn’t seem to bother the environmentalists that large birds, such as eagles. were being killed by those whirling windmill blades.
When the coal mines were shut down in their home state, Jeff and Patti Hammond left the ghost towns of West Virginia and moved to Tennessee, where he was hired by Whirlpool Corporation, of Cleveland, TN to keep their plant floor machinery humming.
The couple favors old, antique homes. Jeff traveled to the smaller communities of the area and found the ideal house in tiny, one square mile, Charleston, TN which has a population of fewer than 600 residents. Charleston was part of the route of the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, when the Native Americans were forced to give up their ancestral lands and walk thousands of miles to resettle in the west.
The rooms have towering ceilings, covered with antique wallpaper. The woodwork is beautifully carved shining with the original varnish.
Patti is a determined collector of antiques. She also is the decorator of their elegant home.