Spain Closes Coal Mines. Mining Unions Celebrate.

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CC BY 2.0. Jennifer Woodard Madezaro

It turns out that helping mining regions move on is just good politics.

Even though US coal continues its decline in the age of Trump, I suspect we haven't heard the last of angry American politicians denouncing the "war on coal".

In much of the rest of the world, however, there appears to be a recognition that the war is over.

The Guardian reports that Spain, for example, has just reached a deal to close the vast majority of its coal mines. And the deal is notable not just for its ambition, but for who is on record as supporting it:

Coal mining unions.

In much the same way that unions in Australia decided coal closures were inevitable, Spain's miners are apparently celebrating the deal because of the €250m (US$284m) it will bring to coal mining regions over the next decade in the form of an early retirement scheme, environmental restoration work, and clean technology.

It makes an awful lot of sense. The economics of coal look increasingly awful around the world and, while partisans might point the finger at Big Government regulation, the reality appears to be that this aging industry just can't compete in a world of cheaper renewables and natural gas, as well as energy storage, efficiency and smarter grids. Coal mining communities—which have faced some of the worst negative impacts from coal—are wise to be thinking about what comes next. And environmentalists would be wise to think about ways that they can support these communities and build common cause.