Donald Trump aims to take advantage of Democrat party antipathy to coal by courting miners with promises to revitalise the industry. He will find this difficult to do for both technical and political reasons. Coal consumption is being hurt by the combination of coal mine productivity improvement, low cost alternatives to coal such as natural gas, rapidly maturing renewable technologies and more efficient use of coal. Added environmental pressures, reflected in a multitude of government programs and initiatives, have further worsened coal’s performance. Trump cannot counter the technical advances industry has made that lower coal consumption. Significant new demand in unlikely. Coal will remain under significant pressure. Trump can, however, take political steps that will stabilize the industry and create a more orderly environment for the long transition from coal.