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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 called it home for hundreds of years, is beginning to reel as coal plants and mines close.
Direct job losses in coal and the mining industry broadly have been particularly devastating for communities in Wyoming, where thousands of workers have been displaced by coal bankruptcies and the economic disruptions of the pandemic.
In the Navajo nation, 700 jobs were lost with the closing of the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta mine. The loss of coal royalties and plant lease payments meant the Navajo and Hopi tribes lost roughly 25 percent and 80 percent of their budgets, respectively. The loss in tax revenue is especially acute for these committees, which experience systemic poverty and poor access to electricity, clean water, and broadband.
Our priority communities in Arizona include the Navajo and Hopi tribes. In addition to the loss of about 700 coal jobs, the Navajo and Hopi tribes lost 25 percent and 80 percent of their budgets from coal royalties and plant lease payments when the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine closed.
Coal employment across the state dropped 13 percent year over year in 2017, a loss of 162 industrial coal jobs. The closure of the Nucla plant and New Horizon mine also had a detrimental fiscal impact on local government. Delta and Montrose counties are some of the most heavily affected in the region.
Our priority in Montana is surrounding communities of the Colstrip Generating Station that, along with the Redbud mine, employs over 800 people and is being negotiated for closure by regional utilities. Among those affected are the Cheyenne and Crow tribes.
Wyoming is the country’s leader in coal production, and its state budget is over 60 percent reliant on fossil fuel revenues. Coal production has fallen dramatically in recent years and is expected to decline further as more mines shut down due to slumping demand.
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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