Bloomberg dismisses Trump’s ‘disingenuous’ promise to revive coal industry

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that despite President Trump’s rhetoric, he would not be able to resuscitate the country’s declining coal mining industry.

“In all fairness, he is not going to be able to bring back those jobs,” the billionaire media mogul told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. “There is nothing that is going to stop the decline in the number of people that work in coal because the use of coal is going down given its problems and cheaper alternatives.”

But Trump has gone out of his way to promise exactly that. Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to bring mining jobs back to Appalachia, and he did not back off that claim after taking office.

“Our coal miners have been treated horribly, and we are going to turn that around — and we are going to turn it around quickly,” Trump declared in February.

Flanked by coal miners last month, Trump signed an executive order to start the process of dismantling former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and promised to reverse the fortunes of coal mining throughout Appalachia.

But Bloomberg told Couric that nothing could be done to revitalize coal because it’s rife with health and environmental problems and there are cheaper alternatives. And Trump knows this, Bloomberg said.

“It’s a little bit disingenuous to say, ‘I’m going to bring the jobs back’ when you know full well you can’t,” he said.

The former mayor compared Trump’s appeal to coal miners with promising to bring back jobs to buggy whip manufacturers or people who worked for Eastman Kodak, which was upended by cellphone cameras and other digital photography.

He said the U.S. should look out for people who lose their jobs because of technological progress, whether it’s miners or employees at retail stores that had to close because of Amazon. But he said the U.S. should not create problems just to give people jobs.

“That’s like saying, ‘We’ve got a lot of veterans we got to take care of.’ That doesn’t mean we should start a war to give them something to do. We have to figure out how to help our vets, but you don’t want to do things that hurt lots of people just to give people jobs. If the jobs disappear, let’s help the people.”

Bloomberg and Carl Pope, an environmentalist and the former executive director of the Sierra Club, sat down with Couric to discuss their new book, “Climate of Hope.” They say their message isn’t so much about what will happen to the planet hundreds of years from now as it is about what businesses, cities and people can do now to be healthier and more prosperous.

In response to last weekend’s March for Science on Earth Day, Trump argued that “economic growth enhances environmental protection,” adding, “Jobs matter!”

But in his conversation with Couric, Bloomberg flipped that claim.

“A pro-environmental policy generally leads to better economics. No. 1: If you stop disease and early deaths, you would save a lot of money. No. 2: Some of the things you should do would help you enjoy life more, will let people get around easier and there’ll be more commerce,” Bloomberg said.

Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — a longtime opponent of the agency he currently leads — routinely criticize federal regulations intended to protect the environment. Both contrast such regulations with protecting jobs in the fossil fuel industry.

Bloomberg acknowledged that confronting the climate crisis would create an economic shakeup that would result in some people losing their jobs. But he said the lives saved would outweigh those costs.

“How do you measure the lives that are going to be saved on one side with the cost of the jobs to other people? The answer there is we have to find ways to help those who do lose their jobs,” Bloomberg said.

For his part, Pope said that when he first learned about climate change in the 1980s, he underestimated how severely the scientific evidence would be denied and resisted. Trump himself has long rejected climate change as a hoax.

“Climate change has become controversial because it will mean a major transition in our economy,” Pope said. “There will be lots of winners and a few losers, and those few losers have put up an astonishing dogged and unfortunately somewhat effective resistance by deciding that if they simply kept the science argument going, the public would feel permanently disempowered from acting.”