As history fans everywhere know, the owners of coal mines have not always been the best friends of the miners who work for them. This is why so many miners ended up dead when they tried to do things like form unions.

For this reason it was somewhat jarring to read in a Washington Post article reporting on the Trump administration's decision to end funding for a study on the health effects of mountaintop mining:

"But Trump has declared himself a friend of coal miners and coal mining companies. In March, he issued an executive order that lifted a ban on leases for coal excavation on federal land, making good on a vow to revive the struggling industry and create thousands of jobs."

Canceling the study is clearly a friendly gesture towards the coal mining companies. They do mountaintop mining, in which they blow the top off a mountain and throw the debris in the streams below, because it is cheaper than underground mining. The study may have been used in court cases by people who suffered from cancer or other diseases in part due to the effects of this dumping. It may also have led to fewer permits being issued in the future.

By contrast, coal miners are likely to be hurt by this outcome. This is in part due to the fact that many miners and their families face greater health risks from living in the vicinity of mountaintop mines. 

However, it is also likely the case that more mountaintop mining will mean fewer jobs for miners. While lower cost production can have some impact on the demand for coal, the bigger impact in terms of employment for miners is likely to be the replacement of underground mining jobs with mountaintop mining. Since it takes many fewer workers to blow the top off a mountain than to dig the coal out by hand in an underground mine, actions to promote mountaintop mining are likely to destroy jobs in the coal industry, even if they increase the profits of the coal companies.