A coal company CEO has warned President Donald Trump not to be too optimistic about the prospect of bringing mining jobs back to the U.S.
Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy, told the Guardian that he made the comments during a meeting with Trump in February.
Trump is due to sign an executive order March 28, which his administration argues will make it easier for companies to produce energy in the U.S.
"I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words," Murray told the Guardian. "He can't bring them back."
But the CEO did welcome Trump's intention to abolish some of the regulations imposed on the industry by the Obama administration, including the classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
"We do not have a climate change or global warming problem, we have an energy cost problem," Murray added.
Scott Pruitt, Trump's selection to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has questioned the validity of the scientific validity of climate change. During the election campaign, Trump referred to climate change as a "hoax."
In addition, Trump plans to do away with the Clean Power Plan, which restricted the use of coal in favor of alternatives that caused less pollution.
A White House official noted that Trump's order would cut back on "unnecessary regulatory obstacles that restrict the responsible use of domestic energy resources," according to Reuters.
"With the election of Donald Trump, my daily reading went down 100 pages. For eight years I had to read everything that the Democrats and Obama were putting out because I am the CEO and I had to guide the company while seeing where they were going to try and destroy us next. And eliminate us," Murray told the Guardian. "Now I don't give a damn what they are say or do now because they are not in power."
Under Obama, the percentage of U.S. energy supplied by coal dropped from around 52 percent to roughly 30 percent.
"Politically it's much better. Barack Obama and his Democrat supporters were the greatest destroyers the United States of America has ever seen in its history. He destroyed reliable electric power in America, he destroyed low-cost electric power in America, and he attempted to totally destroy the United States coal industry," said Murray.
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the immanent removal of Obama-era regulations. Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal Campaign led by the Sierra Club, said the market had changed.
"Friends of the coal industry now populate the highest perches of our agencies and they will do their best to unwind clean air and water regulations and we will fight them every step of the way," Hitt said. "But even if all their wishes come true, I don't think there will be a big boost to the coal industry."