A fifth-generation coal miner from Virginia tore into President Donald Trump's stance on energy and the environment in a New York Times Op-Ed video published Tuesday. Nick Mullins told the president that despite his campaign promises:
coal mining isn't coming back and it's time to get real about it.
Mullins runs a blog called The Thoughtful Coal Miner.
In his message to Trump, Mullins said he is a "fifth-generation coal miner" and a "ninth-generation Appalachian" who worked in the coal industry for "four years." Mullins described the work as "dangerous" and having "long-term health impacts."
Trump has made coal miners and mining a focal point of his presidency, promising to "bring back coal" despite declines in demand and the health and environmental damage caused by coal.
Listen to a coal miner tell Trump: “Coal Mining Isn’t Coming Back” This is the hope I needed today!… https://t.co/kR8UM9JHFP— Julia 🐋 Looking Forward 💜❄️❄️🦄❄️💜 (@Julia 🐋 Looking Forward 💜❄️❄️🦄❄️💜)1535002435.0
Mullins said Trump made "false promises" that are "only going to line the pockets of coal executives while delaying the inevitable" collapse of the coal industry.
Last November, the president proudly tweeted that coal production had increased during his first year in office.
It is finally happening for our great clean coal miners! https://t.co/suAnjs6Ccz— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1509589843.0
"If Trump really wants to help Appalachian communities that support him," Mullins reasoned, "lowering emissions standards is not the way to do it."
Mullins said the coal industry "has never been on the side of the coal miner," because companies who "built cultures" around coal did so "without regard for our safety."
@nytimes Has anyone ever met a "HEALTHY" coal miner?— Mary Villalba (@Mary Villalba)1534952900.0
He listed a few examples of the struggles faced by miners for Trump to consider.
"We're still having to fight for things like black lung benefits, workers compensation, and disability from injuries in the mines," Mullins noted. He added that even though mining towns have a reputation for being "conservative places, the majority of Appalachia's coal-producing counties voted for Al Gore" in the 2000 election.
@ThoughtfulMiner @WVpolicywonk Thank u for posting this article nick. I am a coal miners grand-daughter, daughter &… https://t.co/QhQSJH7Sj1— Stacey 🙋♀️🆘 (@Stacey 🙋♀️🆘)1534970494.0
Mullins said despite promises of labor protections by Democrats, "economic desperation" has "driven them to vote otherwise," and those miners who support Trump are in a fight to "defend ourselves against liberal stereotypes that we're unintelligent deplorables."
@ThoughtfulMiner Thank you for your video message. I hope it helps people understand the truth.— Elizabeth Gaucher (@Elizabeth Gaucher)1534946223.0
Trump's own EPA concluded in August, however, that the president's Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which grants states the right to set their own emissions standards, "result in up to 1,400 more premature deaths a year as of 2030."
By the same year, the Obama administration's Clean Air Plan, which the new rule will replace, would have avoided 3,600 premature deaths due to pollution from coal-fired power plants.
@ThoughtfulMiner Thank you Nick.— OH-I🔴 Buckeye🙆🎓🏈 (@OH-I🔴 Buckeye🙆🎓🏈)1534949563.0
Mullins then turned his attention to one of Trump's favorite taglines: "clean coal."
In his State of the Union speech earlier this year, Trump said he intends on ending "the war on beautiful, clean coal."
In May, Trump boasted on Twitter about the United States having "250 years worth of beautiful clean coal."
America is blessed with extraordinary energy abundance, including more than 250 years worth of beautiful clean coal… https://t.co/Um82NEyz0G— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1526684229.0
"Coal cannot be clean," Mullins said. "We know that firsthand." Mullins showed footage of "acidic mine drainage" oozing from his "family spring." He added that "coal slurry impoundments are real, they're leaching into our creeks, our rivers, and our lakes."
@ThoughtfulMiner I applaud your article, and even went on to read a few on your website. I live near Blacksburg, Va… https://t.co/NANypqFLhl— HokieChick (@HokieChick)1535074934.0
Mullins conceded that although miners "don't want to be told about climate change," they must "at some point" realize "the environmental impacts of the industry aren't a partisan issue."
They're a matter of life and death.
"We don't need short-term revivals of an industry that has always mistreated us," Mullins concluded. "We need long-term investments into our communities."
This is the only way to give justice to the communities who have sacrificed so much to provide the energy and steel that has made this country great.
Mullins' message garnered positive feedback on YouTube. Many people were thrilled to see a coal miner speaking the truth about his industry and its effects on the planet.
And as for the president?