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Here’s an excellent example in southeastern Kentucky of how a former mountaintop coal site can transition to an economic engine that creates jobs and clean energy. “This strategy generates clean electricity without placing solar panels in otherwise bucolic landscapes… It also directs decarbonization investment to communities that are feeling the economic impact of coal’s rapid decline.”
Given the state’s natural beauty, outdoor tourism in West Virginia represents a growing source of economic opportunity for many who formerly worked in the coal mining industry or its ancillary businesses.
Muara Bakah is a village in Indonesia that, like many communities around the world, has been built on a coal economy and is now faced with an uncertain future as the Indonesian government rolls out energy transition initiatives. And also like other communities, the local economy may collapse if it is not accompanied by real efforts to support a just energy transition.
Shuttered coal plants still have significant value to their communities – namely, established connections to the power grid and site infrastructure designed for the energy sector. Many could be workable for clean energy projects like solar arrays, battery storage facilities, or low-carbon hydrogen projects. And redeveloping former coal plants can ensure that nearby communities retain jobs and tax revenue during the clean energy transition.
The Swaniti Initiative and Just Transition Fund are proud to present the India-U.S. Just Energy Transition Dialogue, a three-part series of webinars exploring how resource-dependent regions can achieve a just transition. The first session will discuss how local governments and community leaders can effectively utilize central and state government funds in both the U.S. and India, where federal policies have enabled the flow of financial resources to local communities.
Through the National Association of Counties’ Building Resilient Economies in Coal Communities initiative, coal communities going through transition are opening their doors to communities on the verge of a transition to offer inspiring examples of economic diversification. A recent site visit to Southwest Virginia included tours of a solar farm installed on a former coalfield and the future site of a regional grain terminal to support the craft beverage industry.
The Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition has released its annual report, “National to Neighborhoods: Catalyzing Opportunities for Coal-Impacted Communities.” This report details success stories such as Coalfield Development’s historic Build Back Better project, Appalachian Voices’ work to develop Biological Carbon Removal reclamation models, and Rural Action’s efforts to build outdoor recreation assets. Communities across the Appalachian states of Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia are benefiting from federal resources, including more than $11 billion in funds for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program.
Forcing the market to preserve coal assets through legislation or litigation is like swimming into the current to save yourself — wasting precious energy with little result. Rather than fighting the inevitable, we should put our energy toward helping coal communities transition to a more sustainable and economically promising future. Former mines and other coal assets like power lines, machines and buildings could save hundreds of millions of dollars for new industry, while also reusing existing cleared land to avoid disruption to migration corridors.
The Appalachian Climate Technologies Coalition (ACT Now Coalition) is dramatically expanding on more than a decade of momentum after being named one of 21 winners of the American Rescue Plan’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge. Among the projects that will receive support from this award are a former coal railcar factory in Charleston that will be converted to a green battery institute (in partnership with Marshall University) and an electric vertical take-off and landing facility, as well as an opportunity for renewable energy expansion and a regenerative agriculture social enterprise.
When the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement released this latest round of funding in March, the agency also released new guidance that responds to the concerns raised by advocates such as the Reclaiming Appalachia Coalition in recent years.
The Just Transition Fund is excited to announce that we are expanding our Federal Access Center!
Federal grants will support abandoned mine reclamation