Smokestack America Is Back!

Public Domain. Smoke stacks were a symbol of industrial growth and prosperity when this wartime color photo was made in 1942, by U.S. government photographer, Alfred Palmer.

President Trump will unleash America's "vast energy wealth." Just watch.

Smokestacks used to be symbols of prosperity and industrial might. Back in the Reagan era the New York Times wrote about The Twilight of Smokestack America and its decline. In 1983 Peter Kilborn wrote:

For two decades now, more awesome, glacier-like forces have been at work in the American economy, rolling across the nation's industrial landscape, burying neighborhoods, factories and the once-secure skills of millions of American workers. [Robert Reich described how the] deindustrialization of America, the United States economy, which to generations of Americans seemed invincibly secure and ever more prosperous, has undergone an irrevocable change. The emblems of its wealth -- the heaving smokestacks of giant industries, the calloused hands of its armies of factory workers -- have given way to new emblems of stagnation and decline, the cadavers of urban factories and the lines of the permanently unemployed.

That was so 34 years ago, and Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama couldn’t fix it. But Trump, alone, can; he is firing up the smokestacks again. According to Bloomberg, Trump has vowed to unleash “the vast energy wealth” of the USA, and will return the nation to “energy dominance.”

Trump and team

© Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

"We are now on the cusp of a true energy revolution," Trump told a crowd of executives, lobbyists and laborers at the Energy Department on Thursday. "We are a top producer of petroleum and the No. 1 producer of natural gas. We have so much more than we ever thought possible. We are really in the driver’s seat." Trump is celebrating growing U.S. energy exports he says are leading to "millions and millions of jobs" and acting as a force for peace around the world.

And coal? If you can’t burn enough coal in America, remove restrictions on exports.

Donets Basin

The Donets Basin in Ukraine is the beating heart of the Soviet Union/Public Domain

America is even exporting coal to Ukraine, which is literally like shipping coal to Newcastle; Ukraine has 10 billion tonnes of the stuff in the Donets field that used to be the beating heart of the entire USSR. Rick Perry says coal exports to Ukraine "will have more to do with keeping our allies free and building their confidence in us than anything I’ve seen.” VP Mike Pence is thrilled, saying "Coal miners are actually going back to work, and the ‘War on Coal’ is over.”

It’s easy; just get rid of environmental regulations, pull out of the Paris agreement, sell oil and gas rights in the Arctic and Pacific, drill and frack everywhere. Life is wonderful if you ignore climate change, water pollution, air quality and every other environmental restriction since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.

“The heaving smokestacks of giant industries, the calloused hands of its armies of factory workers” will all be back; just watch.