The return of coal jobs is a 'cruel' deception, congressman says

Rep. Yarmuth: Increase in defense spending will be hard for Republicans

The idea that coal jobs can ever come back is "one of the most cruel deceptions" being played in politics right now, Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told CNBC on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has promised to put coal miners back to work and on Tuesday he signed an executive order aimed at rolling back environmental regulations.

Included in the order is a review of the Clean Power Plan, a set of federal guidelines that give states a framework for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired electricity plants, particularly those that burn coal.

"My action today is the latest in a series of steps to grow American jobs and to grow American wealth. We're ending the theft of American prosperity," Trump said before signing the order.

However, Yarmuth said the Clean Power Plan has already been factored in by most utility companies.

"They've decommissioned a lot of coal-fired plants. They've gone to natural gas plants. So I'm not sure that there's going to be that much of an impact, even in terms of increasing demand for coal," he said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

And even if that demand rises, the jobs still won't come back to places like eastern Kentucky because coal is too expensive to mine, Yarmuth said.

"It's not competitive anymore with natural gas."

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.