Coal country is cautiously optimistic about Trump's executive order

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to roll back EPA regulations set up by the Obama administration. (WCHS/WVAH)

Boone County arguably took one of the hardest hits when coal mines started shutting down after then-President Barack Obama put his clean power plan in place. People living there said most of the miners have since moved out of the county to find work.

"We couldn't have taken many more hits than this area has already taken,” said Kris Mitchell, director of development for Boone County.

Mitchell thinks last year was rock bottom for the area, but she said morale is starting to pick up. A few mines have reopened, and now President Donald Trump's executive order gives hope.

"As we start trying to climb our way back out, any little help we can get is a bonus,” Mitchell said.

The president's executive order will withdraw and rewrite the clean power plan, and roll back several other small regulations such as lifting the short-term ban on new coal mines on public lands. Mitchell said this order is also a big deal for coal country in terms of safety.

"It almost felt like our power grid was going to be in danger if we kept shutting down power plants,” Mitchell said.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and the West Virginia Coal Association are praising Trump's decision. Mitchell said if more mines are open, the state is making more money and that helps draw business to the state.

"Keeping those electric costs down and keeping those people with a good attitude and good morale -- all of that impacts bringing someone here,” Mitchell said.

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