SYCAMORE (KDKA) — Miners at Consol’s Harvey Mine in Greene County gathered before and after their shifts awaiting the arrival of Scott Pruitt – President Trump’s top environmental official – who spoke the words they wanted to hear.
Most everyone in the building voted Trump in the election due to his promise of bringing coal jobs back. As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt is aiming to reverse Obama administration emission restrictions at coal-fired power plants to save jobs.
“The past administration said we had to choose between the environment and job growth. This administration says the opposite. We can achieve both and we will and we’re here to join you in that regard and I’m excited about it,” Pruitt said.
But critics says instead of coal and carbon emissions, Pruitt has declared war on the environment — supporting massive cuts at his own agency and forsaking his responsibly of protecting both air and water.
Penn Future’s Larry Schweiger said a rollback of restrictions will have no effect since coal is quickly being replaced by cheap and bountiful natural gas.
“Scott Pruitt is probably the chief climate denier in America today,” Schweiger said. “We’re moving very quickly to a gas-based energy system and coal cannot reverse that and Scott Pruitt, with all of his lofty words, cannot replace that.”
Still miners said the Trump administration has brought them new hope.
“It’s definitely good for us and for our future. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the workforce and just the morale of everybody,” Chris Randolph said.
Despite those environmental concerns and competition from other forms of energy, the miners feel the Trump administration is giving them a hand up and may help to preserve a way of life.