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Monday, June 12, 2017

PA coal mine--1st in Trump's time in office

About 200 coal miners along with business leaders and local politicians donned headgear as they stood around tables covered with "Make America Great Again" tablecloths.

You could feel the excitement in the air and smell the silicate dust, warning miners to be wary of pneumonultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, the inhaling of silicate dust and one of the longest words in the English language. 

I love that word.

The group gathered for the opening of Corsa Coal Corp's Acosta mine. It's the nation's newest mining operation and is expected to generate up to 100 full-time jobs--hundreds of applications already poured in.

While many experts predicted a decline in coal mining, this mine has been praised as an economic lifeline for an area that had been hit hard by the decline in coal-fired power plants. 

President Trump praised it as proof that environmental deregulation will bring back jobs to the coal industry, an industry that has been struggling after former President Obama symbolically kicked it in the cojones.

"When I campaigned for president I said that we would end the war on coal and put our incredible miners--that's what you are, you are incredible--back to work," Trump said in a video played for the crowd in Somerset County.

"The tone of government has completely changed," Corsa CEO George Dethlefsen said. "Coal is no longer a four-letter word."

[Instead of calling it 'coal,' they plan to call it 'anthracite' to ensure that it doesn't remain a four-letter word].

About a dozen protesters repeatedly chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, coal has really got to go." However, it was later learned that one of them had put in a job application for the mine.

Somerset County, best known as the United Airlines Flight 93 crash on September 11, 2001, has an unemployment rate around 6.8 percent, about 2 points higher than the state as a whole.

The mine is projected to produce about 400,000 tons of metallurgical coal annually during its 15 year lifespan and will create 70 to 100 jobs. Of course, the jobs it creates directly will also impact on other jobs, and it's projected that the mine will produce anywhere from 300 to 400 more jobs.

Even Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (not the, "You Can't Go Home Again" author) a Democrat who sharply criticized Trump's Paris Climate Accord departure, was on hand for the mine opening. (Hey, a vote is a vote.)

Wolf may, in part, be supporting the mine because of the type of coal it will bring: metallurgical coal. It has fewer impurities and burns cleaner than the coal used to fire power plants.

Anal analysts emphasize the new mine isn't necessary a reflection of long-term revival in the coal industry in general, which continues to struggle amid cheaper cleaner energy alternatives such as natural gas and renewables.

However, in spite of the somewhat bleak picture facing the coal industry, it's definitely a step in the right economic direction and hopefully will help Somerset County.

Keep it going, President Trump, and don't let them impeach you. Stop tweeting.