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Among other events and conversations at COP28, the International Labour Organization (ILO) hosted a just transition pavilion with daily sessions and activities centered around supporting workers through a clean energy transition. You can read summaries, watch videos from the pavilion, and learn more.
On the upside, old coal plants often have rail and significant power infrastructure. On the downside, the sites are usually contaminated with coal ash, buried onsite for decades. With more of these buildings being shuttered throughout coal country, counties can apply for grants from local economic development agencies to do a feasibility study to discover how the buildings can be repurposed for a clean energy economy.
For jobless coal miners in Mingo County, West Virginia, a training program is restoring jobs and hope in Appalachian communities. Coalfield Development — a JTF grantee — is paying people to train for new jobs in construction, agriculture and solar installation. The effort so far has trained more than 2,500 people, created 800 jobs, and helped start 72 new businesses using $20 million in federal grants.
Military veteran Obbie Riley began working in a small Mississippi town in 2008 after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard for 22 years. His first order of business was to ensure all homes had access to high-speed internet, which the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis called “the civil rights issue of the 21st century.” A lack of access was blocking residents' chances to work remotely, find higher paying jobs, submit school work, and access educational or telehealth services.
Since 1984, a mine has been discharging billions of gallons of water loaded with sulfuric acid and iron oxide into Sunday Creek in Millfield, Ohio, effectively killing the ecosystem along 13 miles of the waterway. But now, a major project is underway to clean up the discharge, restore the health of Sunday Creek and the watershed around it, and build a new industry by creating a product from a pollutant. Rural Action, a local community development nonprofit — and JTF grantee — is building a water treatment plant that can transform acid-mine drainage into raw material for paints and tints, all while creating local jobs, cleaning up the creek, and making enough money that it pays for itself.
In West Virginia, a company plans to build a plant that will produce a metal and alloy critical for clean energy, fuel cells and cleaner steel. In Texas, a third-generation wind entrepreneur plans to manufacture turbines suitable for remote, rural locations. And in Pennsylvania and Colorado, a window maker plans to retrofit aging factories to produce thin, insulated units that help make buildings more energy efficient. They’re all projects getting federal funding designed to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers bring clean-energy jobs to former coal communities.
A new analysis from the U.S. Department of the Treasury shows that funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are benefiting economically disadvantaged communities more than the rest of the country through clean energy investment in communities that have been underserved and are transitioning away from fossil fuel production.
The Just Transition Fund (JTF), the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community economic transition, is pleased to announce it has provided commitments to United Mine Workers of America Career Centers, Inc. (UMWACC) to help unlock a federal Build Back Better grant enabling the UMWACC to recruit and train more than 500 dislocated miners and others in southwestern Pennsylvania for jobs in the robotics industry.