The Trump administration made another overture to the coal industry Oct. 31, rolling out $18.7 million to fund research into ways of turning coal into other products.

It’s the latest in a series of coal-boosting ideas to come out of the administration, one that’s consistent with what many in the coal industry—and congressional Republicans—want to do.

The political salience of the funding shouldn’t be overstated, because the Energy Department has long funded coal research, including under President Barack Obama....