Front Porch Blog

Webinar series to explore coal impacts and just transition issues

Opportunities and challenges face coal communities dealing with abandoned mines and economic transition

Mountaintop removal mine

A mountaintop removal mine in Wise County, Virginia. Photo by Alan Gignoux

Appalachian Voices is working with our partners in the RECLAIM Coalition to put on a series of educational webinars this spring that will take an in-depth look at a number of issues related to coal mine cleanup and economic transition in coal-impacted communities.

The webinars will look at a variety of federal initiatives in place and in development that can help communities dealing with the impact of abandoned mine lands, including historic levels of funding for abandoned mine land cleanup included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization program and a screening tool being developed to identify disadvantaged communities that will be prioritized for certain federal investments.

Here is a list of the currently scheduled webinars, including topic details and registration links:

What’s next for The RECLAIM Act

The RECLAIM Act garnered excitement and support from across the US with the hope of investing funds to clean up abandoned coal mines and create new economic opportunities. The recently-enacted bipartisan infrastructure law includes $11.3 billion for abandoned mine land cleanup, boosting the reclamation economy in the coalfields. Join us to learn what’s next for coal communities looking to spur economic development through cleaning up abandoned coal sites — including discussion of the AMLER program, new initiatives to clean up modern mining, and new economic initiatives for coal impacted regions.

When: Thursday, March 24, 2:30 p.m.
How to join: Register Via Zoom
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Speakers include:
Hunter Ridgway, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor to Congressman Matt Cartwright
Briggs White, Deputy Executive Director, Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization
Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director, Appalachian Voices
Katie Harris, Deputy Legislative Director, BlueGreen Alliance
Rebecca Shelton, Director of Policy & Organizing, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
Moderator: Dana Kuhnline, RECLAIM Campaign Coordinator

How can AMLER build new opportunities for coal communities?

The Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) program (formerly known as the AML Pilot Program) was created in 2016 to both reclaim abandoned coal mines and spur economic development in coal-impacted communities. The program has provided critical funding for a number of innovative development projects in communities devastated by the decline of coal. This webinar will include an overview of the successes of this program as well as the release of a new report from the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition and Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center highlighting recommendations to strengthen the program and increase the success and impact of the projects.

When: Wednesday March 30, 11 a.m.
How to join: Register Via Zoom
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Getting resources to disadvantaged communities: Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

The Biden Administration has proposed ambitious and essential investments in communities facing environmental justice issues. In order to identify disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution, the administration has drafted a new screening tool and is now looking for feedback. The current version of the tool provides socioeconomic, environmental, health and climate information to inform decisions that may affect these communities. Join us for an overview of the tool and more information on how to engage in feedback.

When: Wednesday, April 6, 1p.m.
How to join: Register Via Zoom
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Modern mine reclamation needs and the bonding crisis

The decline of the coal industry nationwide is exposing the deep cracks in the coal mine clean-up process. As more coal companies go bankrupt, it’s revealing that the system that was designed to ensure mine reclamation is failing. In many cases the funds set aside can’t cover the cost of cleanup. This leaves local communities bearing the burden of dangerous and polluting former mine sites. Learn more about this growing national issue, the proposed solutions that communities have been developing, and how you can help.

When: Thursday, April 21, 1 p.m.
How to join: Register Via Zoom
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A committed advocate for clean energy policy, education and outreach, Chelsea is our Legislative Director based in our Norton, Va., office. When she is not advancing renewable energy, you can likely find her enjoying one of Southwest Virginia's many scenic trails.


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