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Trump administration policies to revive the struggling coal industry may "do little" to restore coal-mining jobs in Utah, the Utah Foundation reported Wednesday.
In the second of a series of three reports on Utah's coal industry, the nonpartisan public-policy research organization determined that political changes will not reverse decades of decline due to a shrinking demand for coal and worker-replacing technology, such as voracious longwall mining machines.
Foundation report author Shawn Teigen said about 1,000 people are employed by coal mines and an additional 1,500 work in one of five coal-fueled power plants in the state.
The number of miners is less than half of what it was in the 1980s, when productivity surged with the introduction of modern coal-cutting equipment, he noted, citing low natural-gas prices and increased regulation of coal-fueled electricity generation.
Some power-plant jobs also are in jeopardy, Teigen said. An old plant in Price Canyon closed in 2015. Two more coal-fueled power plants are scheduled to close by 2030.
"Coal mining and coal-fueled power plants don't account for much of the state's employment," he said, but they are an important source of jobs to the three counties in Utah's coal country Sevier, Emery and Carbon.
"There are also a lot of indirect coal jobs and related tax revenues that these communities rely upon," Teigen said.
The next Utah Foundation report will look at the rural communities economically dependent on coal.