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As recent as 2018, the Illinois Basin—which straddles Southern Illinois, Southwest Indiana, and Western Kentucky—produced about 14 percent of the total thermal coal mined nationally, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
The pace of closures has accelerated, however, with mining operations idling, companies filing for bankruptcy, and 20 of the region’s 38 coal plants announcing retirement dates for some or all of their units.
As more closures are anticipated throughout the expansive and predominantly rural region, identifying communities’ challenges and tapping into their unique assets and opportunities will be essential to shape a just transition away from coal.
We’ve prioritized work in Sherburne, Itasca, Cook, and Washington counties. As a state, Minnesota has adopted a clean energy strategy, which is strongly supported by its largest energy provider, philanthropic organizations, and the public.
Our primary communities include Adams County, where the Stuart and Killen plants closed in June 2018, affecting 490 workers and depleting about 60 percent of the local tax base.
Impacted areas where we’ve worked in Illinois stretch from Chicago to the southern portion of the state. We’ve helped Illinois-based groups play a key role in shaping state policy, bolstering opportunities to drive public investment into effective economic models.
Affected counties include Posey, Warrick, Sullivan, Pike, Vermillion, and Floyd in Southern Indiana, and LaPorte and Jasper counties in the north. Indiana is now seeing more mine closures and plant retirements, impacting workers and increasing the need for community transition planning.
We focus on mining and power plant communities in major coal-affected areas of the United States. Within these regions, we prioritize support for communities experiencing the most distress, taking into account socioeconomic factors that make economic transition even more challenging.
Areas of the western and southwestern United States are well known for their prolific energy production, with 40 percent of the nation’s coal being mined in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. But the region, including many Indigenous communities that have inhabited it for hundreds of years, is beginning to reel as coal plants and mines close.
The Midwest has a long and deep relationship with coal, experiencing booms and busts throughout the 20th century and into recent decades with the expansion of mines in the Illinois Basin. But as demand for the region’s coal declines and cleaner energy outcompetes coal power, more midwestern states and communities are embracing the need for long-term planning, community investment, and policy change.
The rugged landscape of Appalachia’s coal-bearing region is famous for its ecological abundance, narrow ridgelines, and steep valleys. But centuries of industrial-scale and increasingly mechanized coal mining operations have reduced hundreds of mountains to rubble through the use of mountaintop removal mining while producing a legacy of persistent poverty and pollution.
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