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I wrote my first story about the coal industry back in 2001, published a book called Big Coal in 2006 and have been following the industry ever since. And if there’s one central truth that I’ve learned during that time, it’s this: Virtually no coal industry leader, lobbyist or hack politician believes coal has a future in America. Everyone else knows it’s a dead industry walking. The only question now is how much money they can extract, and how much damage they can do to our health, our economy and the climate, before Big Coal sinks into the tar pit of history.

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt told coal miners in Kentucky on Monday that he will move to repeal a rule limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, assuring them, “The war against coal is over.”

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Scott Pruitt has made no secret of his interest in shaking things up at the EPA. The former Oklahoma attorney general spent years during the Obama administration challenging its regulations.

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For lunch on April 26, Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined with top executives from Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities, at Equinox, a white-tablecloth favorite of Washington power brokers.

That evening, it was on to BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for a meal with the board of directors of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-mining giant whose chief executive donated nearly $2 million to help elect President Trump.

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In the six years he served as attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt could be confused for an energy lobbyist, coordinating with representatives from the gas and oil industries to sue the Obama administration E.P.A. on 14 separate occasions.

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