President Donald Trump, coal jobs and climate change agreement
Then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wears a coal miner's protective hat while addressing his supporters during a rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, WV. Ricky Carioti—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump Once Worried About Coal Miners Getting 'Black-Lung Disease' From 'Damn Mines’

Jun 01, 2017
Ideas
Hopper is opinions editor for TIME Ideas.

Twenty-seven years after giving an interview to Playboy magazine, President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Accords, a multinational vow to slow climate change. In his speech announcing the United States will depart from the worldwide agreement (joining Syria and Nicaragua), Trump said that the deal was “unfair at the highest level to the United States” — in large part, he said, because of its effect on American workers, especially coal miners. While listing the potential cuts to productivity that individual sectors that American industry might see, coal was the only one to receive special praise from the President: “I happen to love the coal miners,” he said, before continuing on.

Trump has previously signed an executive order unwinding other environmental regulations, with coal miners beside him. And coal mining counties across the country widely supported Trump as a candidate. But “love” differs strongly from the opinion Trump gave of the same workers in the 1990 interview (which Japanese and German world leaders have reportedly shared with their staffs before meetings with the President). In a response to a question about what he enjoys about his profession, Trump brought up coal miners:

What satisfaction, exactly, do you get out of doing a deal?
I love the creative process. I do what I do out of pure enjoyment. Hopefully, nobody does it better. There’s a beauty to making a great deal. It’s my canvas. And I like painting it.

I like the challenge and tell the story of the coal miner’s son. The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son. If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination — or whatever — to leave their mine. They don’t have “it.”

The interviewer then asked what “it” is, and Trump described it as “an ability to become an entrepreneur, a great athlete, a great writer. You’re either born with it or you’re not. Ability can be honed, perfected or neglected.”


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