EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a whopper of a lie on Meet the Press, claiming that the coal industry has grown by 50,000 jobs since Trump became president. Here is NBC’s transcript of the exchange between Chuck Todd and Pruitt, after showing a clip from Al Gore (watch the video at the 5:00 minute mark, here):
AL GORE: The loss of jobs in the coal industry started with the mechanization of the coal industry. Natural gas started displacing coal and the fossil fuel sector. And promising to re-create the 19th century is not a visionary strategy for a successful 21st century. (END TAPE)
CHUCK TODD: Is he right that you guys are making a false promise though to some of these fossil fuel industries?
EPA ADMINISTRATOR SCOTT PRUITT: Dead wrong. Because the numbers show exactly the opposite in fact since the fourth quarter of last year to most recently added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs.
Fact Check: Four Smokestacks (Wrong, Deliberate and Dangerous)
There is no question that Pruitt’s claim is wrong. Was it deliberate? Absolutely. He made the same claim on Fox News Sunday. On our scale of one-to-four smokestacks, Pruitt’s claim earns a Four Smokestack rating — a deliberate attempt to mislead the public and justify actions that put our health and environment in danger (for more information on the Smokestack Grading Scale, see here).
According to the most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are a TOTAL of 51,000 jobs in the coal mining industry. Four hundred jobs were created in the industry in May, or about 0.3% of the total non-farm jobs added during the month. Here is the raw data from the BLS, with the number of jobs in the coal mining industry shown by month (in the thousands):
This is not the first falsehood Pruitt and Trump have peddled this week in defending the reckless decision to abandon US climate leadership and quit Paris. Environmental Defense Fund’s Keith Gaby has a rundown here.
Pruitt’s Lie Hurts Coal Communities Most
Pruitt’s lie can have life-altering impacts on people employed in the coal industry and their families, who above all else need a reality-based picture of the transforming energy landscape in America. These are the same workers and communities that Pruitt and Trump are professing to help. Disturbingly, Pruitt’s willingness to sacrifice the well-being of others in order to justify his own actions seem to have no limits.
The Smokestack Grading Scale
ONE SMOKESTACK: A selective telling of the facts to argue a point, providing accurate but incomplete information
TWO SMOKESTACKS: Dodging questions, hiding the facts or changing the topic to avoid revealing the truth.
THREE SMOKESTACKS: Wrong and misleading.
FOUR SMOKESTACKS: Wrong, deliberate and dangerous.