Press Release

Coal community leaders release historic platform for national economic transition

Built on community-driven solutions by local, tribal and labor leaders, NET Platform pushes for bold investments in national transition program for those hit hardest by changing coal economy


Trey Pollard, Just Transition Fund

Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices

Listen to the 1-hour press tele-conference here.

NATIONWIDE – Today, 80 local, regional, and national organizations and leaders unveiled their National Economic Transition (NET) platform to give federal and national leaders and policymakers the framework for an ambitious national transition program that supports the people and places hit hardest by the changing coal economy.

This NET platform was crafted by local, tribal, and labor leaders living and working in coal communities, along with non-profit sector partners, during a year-long collaboration led by the Just Transition Fund. Amid the sharp decline of the coal sector over the past decade, these community leaders have already developed and implemented local policy solutions that help tackle the climate crisis and spur inclusive, equitable, and sustainable economic growth in places that once relied on coal. The NET platform presents national leaders with a path to scale up these solutions in coal communities across the country by making a big, bold investment in the platform’s proposed comprehensive national transition program that, when implemented, will create vibrant, resilient, inclusive communities.

This year, U.S. coal consumption is set to decline by more than 23 percent and the closure of more coal facilities will likely be accelerated by COVID-19 and the economic decline. As a result, communities that once relied on coal, like coal mining communities in Appalachia, the Illinois Basin, Montana, Wyoming and elsewhere as well as communities with coal fired power plants from the Navajo Nation to Central Minnesota all face a potentially devastating crisis. This crisis could mean more job losses, the further erosion of the tax base, and cuts to vital services layered on in places already struggling following previous recessions amid decades of inequality and widespread poverty. This perilous situation makes challenges for low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal communities already disproportionately left behind by the status quo even more significant.

As the national conversation continues to focus on economic development, racial inequity, and the climate crisis, the NET platform gives leaders the opportunity to help address these serious challenges in coal communities by enacting solutions that local leaders already know work.

To address these crises from Appalachia to the Navajo Nation, the NET platform urges national leaders to invest in the development of a national transition program built on seven pillars of policy recommendations that put communities in the driver’s seat, including proposals to:

  • Develop local leadership and capacity to lead the transition — especially Black, brown, women, and Indigenous-led organizations and community members.
  • Support local small businesses and entrepreneurship.
  • Provide a bridge for workers to quality, family-sustaining jobs.
  • Reclaim, remediate, and reuse coal sites.
  • Improve physical and social infrastructure, including public health and education systems.
  • Hold coal companies accountable during bankruptcies.
  • Create entities to coordinate transition-related programs and equip communities with the resources they need.

Recognizing the community-driven innovation on transition solutions and the need for a coordinated national transition program, the Just Transition Fund launched the NET project in early 2019. With the facilitation of Dialogue + Design Associates, a community engagement and design firm, A diverse planning team of representatives from coal communities across the country worked to draft this platform and refine it over the course of a year through an extensive idea-generation and feedback-gathering process. That process included a series of in-depth interviews with community leaders and members of coal-impacted communities, an in-person meeting of coal community and transition leaders in June of 2019, three regional stakeholder meetings in Appalachia, the Midwest, and the West, and a digital engagement campaign to gather input from the broader public from coal-affected regions in the fall of 2019.

Community organizations and NET partners released statements in support of the NET platform and are available to discuss its release.

Organizations and individuals endorsing the platform include:

Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
Appalachian Sustainable Development
Appalachian Voices
Michael L. Bentley, EdD, Salem, VA
Better Building Institute Inc.
Fritz Boettner, West Virginia
BlueGreen Alliance
Center for Coalfield Justice
Center for Energy and Environment
Central Appalachian Network
Citizens Climate Lobby West Virginia
Greg Pruszinske, City of Becker, MN
Climate Institute
Coalfield Development
Colorado AFL-CIO
Colorado Farm and Food Alliance
Community for Sustainable Energy
Community Foundation for the Alleghenies
Sylvia Crum
Dakota Resource Council
Delta Institute
Dine’ Citizens Against Ruining our Environment
Louise Dunlap, Maryland
Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation
Eco-Justice Collaborative
Energy Efficient West Virginia
Larry Evans
Faith in Place Action Fund
Diane Fong, Bay City, MI
Foundation for PA Watersheds
Generation West Virginia
Greater Ohio Policy Center
Green West Strategies
Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah
Dr. David W. Inouye, College Park, MD
Lou Ann Jessee-Wallace, Russell County, VA
Just Transition Fund
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Keystone Research Center
Labor Network for Sustainability
Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network
Metro East Green Alliance
Mayor Mark Mills, Coshocton, OH
Mountain Association for Community Economic Development
Native Renewables
New Energy Economy
Northern Plains Resource Council
Ohio Citizen Action
Ohio Consumers Power Alliance
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Partnership for Responsible Growth
Ty Pell, Adams County Commissioner, Adams County, OH
People Incorporated of Virginia
Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation
Policy Matters Ohio
Powder River Basin Resource Council
Prairie Rivers Network
Renewable Northwest
Rural Action
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Sequestering Carbon, Accelerating Local Economies
Sheep Mountain Alliance
Solar United Neighbors
Jessica Stago, Winslow, AZ
The Climate Economy Education Inc
Tó Nizhóní Ání
Tribe Awaken
Union of Concerned Scientists
Utah Clean Energy
Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO
Virginia Organizing
West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Western Clean Energy Campaign
Western Colorado Alliance
Western Organization of Resource Councils
Western Resource Advocates
Randall A. Wilson, Kentucky



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