the national interest

Scott Pruitt Is As Insanely Wrong About Coal Jobs As He Is About Climate Change

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is just slightly off on his figures. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, appearing on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, casually asserted that the Trump administration has presided over a staggering increase in coal-industry employment. “We’ve had over 50,000 jobs since last quarter — coal jobs, mining jobs — created in this country. We had almost 7,000 mining and coal jobs created in the month of May alone,” boasted Pruitt.

How false are these statistics? Extremely false.

Last month, the coal industry added 400 jobs, not 7,000. Since October, it has added just 1,700 jobs. The industry as a whole now employs 51,000 people — total. (No, there were not merely 1,000 people working in coal before the election.)

It is bizarre to design your country’s energy policy — which, even if you disregard climate science, has important implications for public health and international diplomacy — around the goal of maximizing jobs in an industry that employs fewer people than Arby’s. Even if “jobs” was the maximal priority of energy policy, the solar industry employs twice as many people. But, if you’re going to live in a fantasy world in which greenhouse gas emissions do not necessarily trap heat in the atmosphere, you might as well flesh out the fantasy with some imaginary jobs.

Scott Pruitt Is As Wrong About Coal Jobs As Climate Change