Employee vehicles fill a parking lot at Belle Ayr mine. Hundreds of miners have been laid off in Wyoming in recent months, as part of an industry-wide downturn in coal. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

— by Dylan Brown, E&E reporter

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said Saturday that steel jobs could make a comeback in Pennsylvania, but coal was a different matter.

Clinton told Pittsburgh news station KDKA-TV that addressing unfair trade practices, particularly with China, could boost steel manufacturing in the Keystone State.

“Coal is a different issue because we’ve got to figure out, is there a technology that can create clean energy from coal?” she said.

Clinton, who has proposed spending $30 billion in distressed communities, particularly those affected by coal’s downturn, said she wanted to give Appalachia a helping hand.

“We can do that with infrastructure, with advanced manufacturing. We can do that with clean energy,” she said, noting the “reinvention” of Pittsburgh in recent decades.

After last week’s Democratic National Convention, Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, launched a tour of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

She is still dogged by comments in May that she would put coal “out of business” — something Republican rival Donald Trump was all too eager to bring up at a rally in Scranton, Pa., last week.

“We’re going to bring our coal back, and we’re going to have clean coal,” he said, pointing to the GOP’s pro-coal platform.

Trump doubled down on his pledge to put miners back to work despite Murray Energy Corp. CEO Robert Murray cautioning against setting unrealistic expectations.

In Scranton, Trump said he didn’t even know why he first made the promise during a primary victory party in New York City.

“I said we’re going — and this is in the middle of Fifth Avenue, OK? — we’re going to put the miners back to work. I said that. I don’t even know why,” Trump told the crowd.

Trump said West Virginia coal miners have told him they want to keep mining and don’t want to do anything else.

“I love that. I love that. I can understand it, and I love that. Love it. These are amazing people,” he said.

In 1990, Trump told Playboy magazine that if he had been born a coal miner, he would have had the “it” factor to find different work (E&E Daily, Feb. 23).

Coal boosters are hoping the debate over the fuel’s future once again plays a role in deciding who wins in key states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity released an analysis today noting that coal provides 48 percent of the power in 13 states with 149 electoral votes.

“Coal-fired power plants not only provide the dependable and reliable electricity our nation needs, but they support hundreds of thousands of families and their communities,” said CEO Mike Duncan.

“It is imperative that Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton work to protect these people and ensure we all have the affordable power needed to keep food on the table and the lights on,” he said.

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— Originally published by GreenWire. Contact E&E publishing for permission to republish.

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