The coal companies are awakening. And while a continuation of this downturn, will weaken it and return the industry to the gut-wrenching level it was in for five years until recently, it could be enough to push the industry to a potential mass extinction.
Although they continue to announce record profits, coal companies are consolidating their ownership and moving factories overseas. As a result, coal companies will do everything they can to keep the amount of supply in order, and threaten individual mines by closing them. This strategy will save them money and shift what it takes to manufacture coal to less-expensive foreign countries.
This also means that states and smaller communities, which are dependent on coal for some of their income and jobs, are forced to face one potential disaster after another, and will struggle to keep up. But since, the fire and collapse of coal has the power to obliterate not only entire communities, but also our national self-awareness.
The energy industry, the most sought after manufacturing sector, is seemingly inseparable from its customer base. Yet, when combined with any other industry that depends on cheap energy, as coal does, those that rely on them are bound to suffer.
The coal companies had the fire in them, the willingness to work all day if it meant profitability. But as a combination of technology advancements, the ever-competitive environment of technology, and the use of cheap labor overseas, the fire is out of them.
While the coal companies focus on recreating it, and keep many mines operating, there are millions of Americans out of work. Millions of Americans are seeing their pensions and retirement lost, and they don’t have options. These many coal companies and millions of Americans are doomed to continue losing out on the good wages they earned working for those coal companies, not to mention the benefits.
But the oil and gas industries, especially U.S. producers, have learned to produce more efficiently. This has afforded them ample money to be recycled back into their communities, and thereby purchasing necessities such as water, electrical power, and groceries. As a result, citizens have seen improvements in many critical and essential items.
Yet the coal companies offer little assistance to any individual left struggling. As many have seen, the coal companies can spend millions each day in airfare to visit abroad, simply to “keep” jobs. They will not provide healthcare for miners and employees. They will not support any retiree, however poor, with healthcare, or pay for children to go to college without the fear of crippling student loan debt.
As a result, while the oil and gas industries provide countless options for jobs, the coal companies want to cut and run. For those not fortunate enough to fall on hard times, this can be crippling.
Yet for those fortunate enough to be successful, and still able to work, the coal companies that exploit lower wages, and cause irreparable damage to children and the communities they live in can afford to hire their lobbyists and send their lies to the media, claiming that the reason is the environmental issues of burning coal.
As the coal companies continue to bleed their employee bases and communities dry, they undermine everything they ever stood for.
Kurt Metzger is a healthcare and energy analyst. Kurt was named Health News Review’s Enterprising Journalist of the Year in 2016, and he works as a legislative writer for North Carolina State Representative Keith Ingram.