Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump from coal miners

Dear Mr. President-Elect Trump,

Dear Congressman Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Department of the Interior, 

Anybody who works on American coal mines knows that the industry is rapidly changing. Mines are closing, coal companies are declaring bankruptcy, and many of us are losing our jobs and our livelihoods. For some of us, these are the only jobs that we’ve ever known – once assured of a lifelong and stable career with good pay and a community in which to raise a family. No more.

We all have strong opinions about why our industry is suffering: which politicians or whose agenda is to blame. Regardless of politics, the bottom line is that we need to take care of our brothers and sisters who are facing uncertain times.

That means ensuring that coal companies follow through on their commitments to coal miners across the country. As you take action to revitalize the coal industry, we urge you and Congressman Zinke to do everything possible to hold true to your promise on the campaign trail that you are beholden to “no special interest. My only interest is you, the American people.”

Here’s how the Trump Administration can be a champion for coal mining communities in crisis:

Ensure federal and state governments use every legal option to prevent coal companies from shirking their commitment to reclaim and repair the public lands mined for private profit.

Through bankruptcy proceedings, we have learned that several companies are working to drastically reduce their financial and legal responsibility to reclaim mined land.

Any new or expanded coal leasing should be in concert with the strongest possible assurances that coal companies will honor their obligations to communities to create jobs by reclaiming and rehabilitating mined land.

Work with Congress to increase revenue and funding for communities as well as programs that support local economies.

There are a number of pieces of legislation on the table in Congress that would invest in coal communities, fund reclamation and economic revitalization projects, and protect promised benefits to coal miners and their families.

We urge you to work with Congress to pass these laws if they do not move forward before your inauguration

We, the undersigned coal miners and concerned individuals from across the country, demand action that will bring relief to coal communities.

 

The international coal industry is rapidly changing and workers are bearing the costs. Here at home, coal companies are declaring bankruptcy, workers are losing their jobs and our communities suffer the burden while CEOs and executives reap multi-million dollar bonuses.  

Regardless of politics, we can all agree that our families and communities deserve better. 

These are the stories from Western coal country.

 

About This Project

In August 2016, Interfaith Worker Justice traveled to the epicenter of Western coal country in Gillette, Wyoming, to bear witness to the challenges Western communities are facing as the coal industry changes. The media has focused on how some CEOs are getting rich at the expense of Western communities and the effect of coal production on climate change. Instead, we want to lift up the stories of working people who are struggling to get through this difficult time.

We seek to ensure that as the debate over coal and energy policy rages on, the voices of workers and those truly impacted are not lost or forgotten.