Jeremy Richardson, Union of Concerned Scientists, email@example.com, 301-442-1326
Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices, firstname.lastname@example.org, 434-293-6373
Washington, DC – As America continues to transition toward clean energy, Congress must take swift and comprehensive action to support the workers and communities — from Appalachia to the West — who have historically depended on the coal, oil and natural gas industries as an economic lifeline and ensure they have the opportunity to build vibrant economies for the 21st century.
In a letter sent today to top congressional leadership, the 35 organizations noted that many of these communities and workers are struggling right now, and the global shift away from fossil fuels only promises more difficult years ahead for communities that continue to rely on the industry. “The shift in our energy sector has so far proceeded without much forethought or planning, leading to substantial consequences for affected workers and communities. We owe far more to the people and places who have sacrificed so much,” they wrote.
Broadly, the coalition is calling for increased and sustained funding of existing federal programs that serve these workers and communities, creation by statute of a White House “Office of Transition” to coordinate multiple efforts, and creation of a community-led advisory board to develop a national plan for transition.
The letter identifies 28 distinct programs, policies and ideas for action. Many of the programs already exist and need greater funding, while others would require legislation to create important new programs and benefits. The coalition members noted that they drew upon the initiatives and ideas already contained in several bills as well as platforms recently put forth by various organizations and coalitions.
“A fair and equitable transition requires a whole-of-government approach with a comprehensive, robust, and sustained set of investments in people and communities that simultaneously invests in local leadership and place-based solutions,” they wrote.
Rebecca Shelton, Director of Policy and Organizing, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center:
“Communities in Eastern Kentucky have lost thousands of jobs, experienced plummeting tax revenues, and faced years of disinvestment in spite of powering the nation for decades. We’re left with hundreds of thousands of acres of hazardous and degraded lands and waters, and many people who were once healthy and active in the workforce are now living with disabling black lung disease. Now is the time to commit to a transformative investment and the policies proposed in this letter are a roadmap for starting that work.”
Heidi Binko, Executive Director & Co-founder, Just Transition Fund
“Federal policy is critical to building inclusive, equitable economies in the places hardest hit by the transition away from coal. Congress can enable a just economic transition for these places by expanding federal resources and ensuring that impacted stakeholders inform national solutions. We urge elected officials to increase federal support for a range of community needs — from economic and workforce development to infrastructure and local capacity-building.”