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It’s rare to see workers installing solar panels on the roofs of homes in West Virginia. Due partly to President Biden's signature climate law, that's slowly changing. Aaron Millner, who works as a crew lead for West Virginia-based Solar Holler, said, "I came here because of the IRA bill that Joe Biden passed.” His conviction is reinforced by better pay and, in his case, health insurance for the first time in six years. And Millner is not alone. Jobs and investments in green technologies across the country have opened up new opportunities for many Americans.
Senior administration officials announced new policies that aim to ensure that rural regions hit by mine closures and shuttered power plants can get an economic boost from new federal cash for energy and infrastructure funding.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband access to rural communities. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would strengthen funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services.
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.
As severe weather events increase, so does danger to rural communities. Plans are in place to address the urban observation bias in national weather prediction, but the other piece — reliable broadband — could still be years away for places like Eastern Kentucky.
As the long-awaited rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration to protect coal miners from exposure to respirable silica goes through the Office of Management and Budget, the connection between new mining technologies and methods, toxic silica dust, and the resurgence of black lung is increasing the urgency for action.
A look at the challeges facing rural communities seeking federal funding and the programs created by the Biden Administration to help.
A look at why broadband remains inaccessible to certain communities, and why new federal efforts may still fail to reach them.
JTF partner Tony Pipa of the Brookings Institute discusses the federal policy "renaissance" needed to revitalize rural communities, including building blocks like broadband, the Rural Partners Network, RECOMPETE, & more.
Providing stackable solar installation tax credits for businesses and individuals, and – for the first time – tax-exempt entities like schools and non-profits, IRA could help retool rural economies previously dependent on coal.