"BOBTOWN, Pa. — When Nic Zmija applied for a job at the 4 West coal mine three years ago, he was tantalized by a fat raise and a secure future. Once hired, he was told that someday even his two young sons had jobs waiting for them.
“It all sounded good,” Mr. Zmija recalled with a tight smile while sitting at his kitchen table the other day. “They said my kids would be able to retire here.”
But right after New Year’s, management announced that the mine would have to close, leaving 370 workers scrambling to find new jobs. The Zmija family must now prepare to move in search of the next coal job.
The fateful turn of events in Appalachian mining towns like Bobtown, isolated between craggy bluffs and wooded hills 70 miles south of Pittsburgh, illustrate the seemingly relentless downturn of the coal industry. While President Trump has offered some regulatory relief to the industry, market forces still dictate a gloomy future — one largely shaped by the glut of cheap natural gas yielded by the drilling boom in shale fields near here and across much of the nation."