An historic coal plant in Tennessee officially closed its doors on March 24, further symbolizing the decay of the coal mining industry in the U.S. despite efforts by the Trump administration to bring back coal mining jobs.
From a peak of nearly 90,000 jobs a decade ago, employment in the coal mining industry has fallen sharply to around 50,000 yearly. A huge drop from 2011 to 2016 has bottomed out to roughly average 50,000 a year since, however plants across the country continue to close.
Environmental regulations, renewable energy and a surplus of natural gas in the U.S. has pushed the coal industry closer than ever to the brink of extinction. Rollbacks on some protections under the current administration have slowed this decline, but industry professionals and experts fear the end of coal is right around the corner – especially amidst the growing coronavirus pandemic. With natural gas and other facilities poised to ramp up production due to the increased demand across the country, few coal plants remain to match the necessary production, which could be another tough break for the industry.