Cat McCue, Senior Communications and Public Engagement Strategist
Today, a White House interagency group released a report outlining a range of processes and programs to support and revitalize the economies of communities historically dependent on coal mining and coal-fired power plants as the Biden administration ramps up its national agenda on creating jobs and addressing climate change.
The White House Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization was established by President Biden in his January 27 Executive Order on Tackling Climate Change at Home and Abroad (Sections 217-8).
The report identifies the 25 most-impacted communities across the country already hard-hit by coal mine and coal power plant closures, as well as a broader set of coal-impacted communities that will see economic declines long-term without significant intervention.
The report includes seven immediate steps the Interagency Working Group should take within the next year to support coal-impacted communities which should be prioritized for focused federal investment. Notably, this includes a series of town halls in these communities that the administration will launch within the next three months, as well as a possible new Energy Community advisory group of key constituencies.
Additionally, the report identifies $38 billion in existing federal programs which could provide immediate investments in the communities. Along with a range of priorities and opportunities, it underscores the importance of reclaiming land damaged by coal mining, work that must be a key, job-creating priority going forward.
Statement from Tom Cormons, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices
“Communities in Appalachia and other coal regions who powered our country for more than a century have been working for years to restore their environments and revitalize their economies, pressing the federal government to step up with engagement and investment matching the scale of the challenges. Today’s report is a welcome and critically important response, pointing to a way forward that underscores the importance of investment and prioritizes ongoing communication and collaboration. We look forward to advancing this work with the White House, key agencies and others quickly and with community involvement at every step.”
Appalachian Voices is a planning team partner with the National Economic Transition Coalition, which developed a seven-point platform in 2020 for a federal response to local economic needs due to the decline of coal.